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Thursday, July 5, 2018


Interesting concept from a Durban-based production that needs developing. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Empty Stage, currently appearing on the Fringe at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, is a Kwa Mashu Community Advancement Projects (KCAP) production. Directed and written by Edmund Mhlongo, it features Palesa Dunywa and Nokwanda Mlambi.

The programme notes state: “This absurdist play tells the story of a woman who was an actor but nothing ever comes right. She goes to watch a show but her heart gets heated to see an empty stage (with no actors) while the audience is moved by action that she cannot see.”

The Library Hall is a small intimate performance space which suited this production, allowing the audience to become closely involved with the performers and their various moods and actions.

The play starts with a woman sitting in the audience of a production waiting for it to start but when it does and the lights go out, nothing happens. Nothing – no people, no sound, no set. She gets irritated and struggles onto the empty stage (she is physically handicapped) bellowing that she wants her money back. The director appears and tries to explain that this is a show that deals with the absence of real relationships and spiritual voice, inviting audience members to look within themselves.

The woman refuses to acknowledge this complex explanation and leaves in frustration, only to return attired as a policewoman. As things develop, we discover that she is a frustrated actor who was never accepted for the roles she applied for.

Dunywa and Mlambi give good performances in what is quite a convoluted plot which would benefit from some tightening and clarification. This is an interesting concept from a Durban-based production that needs developing.

There are three more performances at the Library Hall: July 6 at 12h00; July 7 at 16h00 and July 8 at 12h00. – Caroline Smart