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Friday, September 23, 2016


(Graham Weir)

An intensely personal journey handled by a master of his craft. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Durban audiences will remember Graham Weir from his appearances in Not the Midnight Mass, a musical show he founded with his sister in 1988, and a number of productions at the Playhouse.

Dead Yellow Sands, a one-man show which he wrote, is a minimalist piece in terms of movement and set. Directed by Bo Petersen, with excellent lighting design by Darron Araujo, it had a run at the recent Hilton Arts Festival.

All there is on stage is a single chair with lighting stands either side. Weir does not move from this position throughout but he takes on the role of numerous characters all showing his excellent dramatic ability and impressive vocal power. The content is drawn from his own memories or those of people he knew.

He opens the show, reminiscing about being raised in Benoni, talking about how the dead yellow sands blew from the mine dumps and covered the surrounding areas. He recalls with fondness a road show featuring the dolphins Bonnie and Clyde and the arrival of a replica of Jan van Riebeeck’s ship, the Dromedaris. Through his different characters, he deals with how things have changed so extensively as the world has become so technology-driven and mourns the loss of a more meaningful time. His final character is extremely moving and had me close to tears.

Araujo justifiably won the Fleur du Cap Award for Best Performance in a One Person Show and Best Lighting Design. As the scenes change, he produces fascinating shadow effects. However, I did find that sometimes these detracted from Weir’s performance particularly during one sequence where only the one half of his face was lit. I felt myself wishing I could see Weir’s expressions.

Dead Yellow Sands is an intensely personal journey handled by a master of his craft. – Caroline Smart

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