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Tuesday, September 18, 2018


(Bryan Hiles)

While it is a one-man play, there is no doubt that the lighting is the co-star. (Review by Keith Millar)

Bryan Hiles is without doubt one of Durban’s finest and most versatile actors. One only has to think of his extraordinary performance as the Big Friendly Giant in the recent production of Roald Dahl’s BFG, by the KickstArt Production Company or, for that matter, his handling of role of Amos Hart in their production of Chicago. His interpretation of Mr Cellophane in that musical still lives large in my mind.

Now he shows off his skills as the story teller in Michael Taylor-Broderick’s whimsical tale, Jakob which could be seen in the Drama Centre at this year’s recent Hilton Arts Festival.

Needles to say, he handles this tricky and physical one-man production with considerable skill and aplomb. Along the way, he creates a host of differing and believable characters. All of who inhabit the remote rural village that is the setting for Jakob.

The play was adapted for stage by Clare Mortimer from a short story by theatre lighting guru Michael Taylor-Broderick who also directs the production. He was also, by the way, the Festival’s Technical Director.

Jakob is an enigmatic, ethereal and poetic folk tale of a young boy who fears light. He tries everything to block it out or to capture it. The story deals with themes of love, light and prejudice. It is told in lovely descriptive prose, and with a light Afrikaans accent, which Hiles delivers with style.

His excellent performance earned him a standing ovation from the capacity audience in the theatre.

As light plays a major role in this story, the lighting design is of much importance and it is superb, as maybe one should expect with the involvement of Taylor-Broderick in the production. While it is a one-man play, there is no doubt that the lighting is the co-star.

Also of note is the superb atmospheric music by Shannon Hope used in the production.

It seems that it is not often that these festival pieces make it to the stage afterwards and, of course, Durban’s paucity of viable theatres exacerbates this problem. However, if Jakob proves the exception, it is well-worth seeing. – Keith Millar