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Thursday, January 16, 2014


(Gabriel Miya & Jem Atkins)

Cracking good start for Musho! 2014 (Review by Keith Millar)

The 2014 Musho! Festival got off to a cracking good start last night with a full house audience for a performance of eLimboland at the Catalina Theatre at Wilson’s Wharf.

It would be understandable if writer and director Gisele Turner felt a little nervous as seemingly every Durban theatre luminary was present for the festival opening. However, I think she acquitted herself rather capably with her well-crafted and thought-provoking two-hander.

eLimboland is where two men, one black and one white, find themselves after they have died. They have no recollection of how they got there, who they are, or what is happening to them. They have to work through all this information as well as their past histories and common connections before they can move on to heaven. Or, possibly, the other place.

The play is fairly topical and looks at many of the problems which are prevalent in South Africa today, such as crime and violence and racial disharmony. An alarming number of ways to be killed in this country are discussed as the two men sift through the facts of their lives, looking for answers.

It is not until they come to the realisation that the past can’t be changed that they are able to move on together.

Gabriel Miya and Jem Atkins both put in fine performances in this production. However, the main emotion they had to work with is one of frustration at their circumstances. I think both would do well in roles demanding a wider range of emotions.

eLimboland is a brand new production and as such feels a little bit like a work in progress. At times it felt more like a radio production than a stage work. Also the bare stage did not have the ambiance of a misty and mysterious land of hereafter. While composer Dick Hathorn’s strange and discordant saxophone notes, which were playing in the background, certainly did help, I am sure that some sort of backdrop and possibly the use of a smoke machine would have assisted to set the scene. 

The amusing pre-recorded voice of a civil servant giving instructions to the new arrivals in Limboland was unfortunately distorted and difficult to hear. This is not the first time that I have experienced this problem at the Catalina Theatre and they should consider paying some attention to their sound system.

All in all, eLimboland is an interesting and entertaining new piece of theatre. One hopes with a bit of polish it will have a future life, and not itself end up in eLimboland.

The Musho! Festival is presented by PANSA with support from Twist Theatre Development Projects, The KZN Department of Arts and Culture, The Daily News, BASA and the Arts and Culture Trust. – Keith Millar