(Rory Booth as Sunil Mohan. Pic by Val Adamson)
Tour de force performance from Rory Booth in excellent and thought-provoking one-man drama. (Review by Caroline Smart)
In his first one-man play, Rory Booth appears in Reoca Light, an excellent and thought-provoking drama written by Ashwin Singh and directed by Ralph Lawson. The quality is such that one would expect from three award-winning theatre personalities. It runs for a few more days in the Playhouse Loft before going on tour.
Reoca Light is all about unsung heroes in the Reoca community linked to Sunil Mohan and his family. The play opens with a scene featuring Sunil‘s great, great grandfather, (Booth bare chested in black trousers and wearing a turban), who dreamed of starting a convenience store while working on the sugar cane plantations in the 1870s.
We meet Sunil Mohan as he is in the process of closing up his father’s convenience store and his mother’s wendy hut after a spate of robberies, the last one putting his father in hospital. The store was a popular meeting place and the wendy hut was also the safe house of a number of activists. He is talking to an unseen newspaper reporter who is writing an article on him and his family. He then goes on to wander down memory lane, being reminded of the people who made a major impression on his upbringing.
His father was known as the “sweet uncle” for his generosity but there was a side to him that the community didn’t know and these are difficult memories for Sunil to revisit without anger.
Booth gives a tour de force performance as he handles an impressive number of characters involving numerous accents, voices, ages and sexes. Memorable characters are Themba, his family’s employee, and Uncle Johnny whose romance he helped encourage, as well as a hypocritical television presenter with a false smile. Pure delight was a tiny scene where he played Sunil’s mother quietly doing her sewing. He also plays a puffy faced spoilt brat … and two dogs! The dog fight was a true highlight of Booth’s energy and versatility.
Booth is a fully qualified Indian classical dancer and we had a chance to see some gentle hand movements as well as a hilarious send-up of Amitabh Bachchan in a hip-thrusting number!
The quality of Ashwin Singh’s writing is well known and his characters are well-drawn. While driving a strong socio-political message, the story focuses on the people and their lives and struggles. Amidst the humour and amusing scenes, there are some beautifully poignant moments. There are often lightning changes in moods, brilliantly executed.
Using the full space of the Loft theatre, it’s a simple set with two sets of covered black blocks and a raised platform on a square of linoleum. The lighting, which is designed by Ralph Lawson and Dylan Heaton, is highly effective, often creating an other-worldly atmosphere.
Presented by The Singh Siblings (an artistic collaboration between Ashwin Singh and Shantal Singh), Reoca Light runs in The Playhouse Loft until April 8, 2017, at 19h30 before embarking on a national and international tour. Tickets R100 (concessions for students and pensioners) booked via Computicket on 0861 915 8000 or online at www.computicket.com. Alternatively, call the Playhouse Box Office on 031-369 9540 / 369 9596 (office hours). – Caroline Smart