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Friday, July 31, 2015


An excellent learning tool for all involved in its staging. (Review by Keith Millar)

Behind Closed Minds was the production chosen by the Durban University of Technology as its entry to the Student Theatre component of the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown this year.

This was a fine achievement for third year student Farréll Drew as he not only wrote and directed the production but, for good measure, composed the incidental music heard in the piece.

artSMart was due to review Behind Closed Doors at the festival but unfortunately the reviewer scheduled for the task was laid low by a spider bite and had to miss the production.

Fortunately, the production also formed part of the New Directors Festival (Phase 11) presented by the Department of Drama and Production Studies at the Durban University of Technology’s Courtyard Theatre so we were able to review it, after all.

Behind Closed Minds is a hard hitting, powerful and dark story which deals with the abuse of power. Dr Victor Duval, a rather despicable character, is a hypnotherapist who exercises absolute authority over everyone he comes in contact with. All, from his patients to his wife, are subjected to abuse from this man - often when they are under hypnosis and defenceless. He appears set on destroying the lives of anyone who trusts him.

Productions at DUT often feature large casts in order to allow as many students as possible the chance to appear on stage. Behind Closed Minds, on the other hand, has a small ensemble cast of six. This affords the actors a better opportunity to develop their characters and to display their talents.

The cast of the production grasp this opportunity with both hands and put in thoughtful and enthusiastic performances.

Gabriel Miya as Dr. Duval is particularly noteworthy. He is very convincing as this evil and immoral character. Miya is blessed with a strong sonorous bass/baritone voice which he uses to good effect. I have seen him play the villain very successfully in other DUT productions and he may be at risk of being typecast as a rogue.

The others in the cast were Nozipho Mbhele as Duval’s wife, Sbabili Myeza, and Anelisa Bele as patients, Ntando Madlala as the mother of one of the patients and Anathi Gobeni who plays Choric Seer who serves as Duval’s angelic conscience.

Beyond Closed Minds is a credible student production which I am sure served as an excellent learning tool for all involved in its staging. – Keith Millar