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Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Mbulelo Grootboom gives exceptional and subtly versatile performance in Mike van Graan’s latest play. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Iago’s Last Dance which appeared on the fringe of the 2009 National Arts Festival is Mike van Graan’s latest play. Comprising three playlets: Heartbreak Medea, Iago’s Last Dance and Vuyo’s Vengeance, they all carry this fearless writer’s stamp of telling it like it is – no holds barred, sardonic humour and the frightening reality of his subject matter. With storyline links, all three plays focus on AIDS and its impact on the victims of the pandemic as well as on those close to them.

Don’t be misled into thinking that it’s all angst and gloom. Directed by the sure hand of Lara Bye, all three plays are fine dramatic pieces, each in a different style. Van Graan tackles a sensitive subject forthrightly with energy and wit, ensuring that he gets his message across to his audiences.

Handling the strongest dramatic role is Mbulelo Grootboom who gives an exceptional and subtly versatile performance as the estranged husband now in a gay relationship (Heartbreak Medea); an embittered professional ballroom dancer (Iago’s Last Dance), and a former activist of the liberation struggle now fighting for his life in a court of law (Vuyo’s Vengeance). Each character was clearly, emotionally and vocally identifiable – Vuyo even had a nervous tic.

Grootboom is well supported by Ntombi Makhustshi and Jan-Hendrik Opperman who also give fine performances. Makhustshi was notable as Lerato in Iago’s Last Dance and Opperman as the bitter and embattled former spy in Vuyo’s Vengeance.

I have to admit that by the time we reached the final play, Vuyo’s Vengeance, I was in dramatic overload so had difficulty concentrating on the convoluted layers of this piece.

The scene changes are well-executed – mini scenes in themselves - and Faheem Bardien’s lighting was highly effective. – Caroline Smart