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Saturday, July 4, 2015


(Reviews from the artSMart team currently in Grahamstown at the 2015 National Arts Festival)

Fascinating performance by the renowned Andrew Buckland. (Review by Thomie Holtzhausen)

Directed by Sylvaine Strike, Tobacco and the Harmful Effects Thereof features Andrew Buckland with a cameo, but haunting, guest appearance by Toni Morkel.

Based on Anton Chekov’s monologue with the same title, it tells the story of Ivan, who is instructed by his wife to address a gathering on the harmful effects of tobacco.  Ivan, a smoker himself engages his audience with his very nervous relationship with his wife and hardly ever gets to the point.  Buckland’s masterful performance, gently shaped and nuanced by the equally talented Strike, offers a theatrical journey of superb magnificence.

From the minute Buckland appears on stage he captures the character beautifully through his magical stage presence, comic timing and physical childlike portrayal of Ivan. The dark-humour is skilfully under-played and brings this rather archaic theatre piece to life.  Strike’s skilful direction is evident and the two masters of storytelling certainly reach a synergy seldom experienced on stage. The grotesque cameo appearances by Morkel have the audience in stitches initially, but gradually strongly support the frustration of the main character to a point of total sympathy.

A minimalist stage, a hollow log that serves as lectern to canoe and economic lighting all beautifully compliments the performances.  The text is dark and archaic but the true joy lies in seeing Andrew Buckland’s astonishing talent.

Don’t miss this masterpiece on at St Andrew’s Hall until July 11, 2015. - Thomie Holtzhausen

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