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Wednesday, July 16, 2014


(Daniel Janks. Jessica Friedan, Ashleigh Harvey & James Alexander)

(Review from the artSMart team from the National Arts Festival)

Outstanding cast tells stories of dark secrets borne of inner turmoil. (Review by Caroline Smart)

In an extraordinarily calm and non-histrionic manner, four actors tell three horrific stories in a play titled Bash which appeared on the Fringe Festival in Grahamstown.

Produced by The Wider Ground and 360 Degrees Production House, Bash is directed by Megan Willson and written by American playwright Neil LaBute. The outstanding cast features James Alexander, Jessica Friedan, Ashleigh Harvey and Daniel Janks.

The staging is simple – just two comfortable arm chairs with a side TV screen introducing each of the stories in graphics alongside words that link to the narratives. At first meeting, the characters appear normally balanced, civilised well-dress people. However, bar one, they all have a dark secret borne of inner turmoil. There is clever ironic dialogue especially when the stories move in a dark direction.

iphigenia in orem (the screen shows the titles Breadwinner, Head, Responsibility) is the first story (Daniel Janks) and deals with addiction to material wealth. Alone in his retrospection, he talks about the loss of his five-month old baby after a joke that went horribly sour.

A Gaggle of Saints (Dream, Justice, Value) sees James Alexander and Jessica Friedan sees two young people talking about a party they went to in New York. While the female chatters on about insignificant memories, the man’s story goes down a homophobic path.

The final story is medea redux (Love Loyalty Trust). As an adult woman, Ashleigh Harvey’s character talks about a sexual relationship she had with a much older man when she was 13. As a result she became pregnant and when the child is older she uses him as a tool to extract her revenge. While the whole cast is excellent, as already mentioned, it was Ashleigh Harvey’s superb performance that blew me away in her quiet and compelling retelling of her story.

Don’t miss this one if it comes your way. – Caroline Smart