#Woordfees2019: One Long Wait With Family, Baggage And A Bunch Of Big Laughs in 3 SUSTERS
Three sisters are stuck in an airport. Stuck waiting for a flight that seems endlessly delayed. Stuck with their thoughts, their regrets, their wishes, their baggage and with each other. In the space between escape and reality, between responsibility and freedom, between the truth and the distorted versions that each has created for herself. In this space, with nothing to do but wait, they are forced to talk. To interact, face their past and find a way to move forward. This is an absolutely hilarious, incredibly endearing and beautifully presented play. 80 minutes flew by in a haze of hysterical laughter and gut-wrenching moments.
Louis Pretorius has written a text of nuance and subtlety that is at the same time highly improbably and yet totally relatable. The talented Tara Notcutt has brought the script to life with so much detail it is astounding. Working with a layered text, she has created seamless transitions into the inner space of the character’s thoughts and memories: almost confessional interactions that make the audience an active part of the play - the confidante and the all-seeing judge. By hearing multiple versions of the same event, the audience starts to question who is right, who is wrong and whether, in the end, it truly matters. What we learn is not only who these sisters are, but also why they have become the way they are. And working with three of the most talented and experienced actresses in South Africa just elevated it to a whole other level.
Lizz Meiring is Christine, the elder sister who is turning fifty and whose birthday they are celebrating. She is the constant mother, having assumed the role when their own mother left, and is mostly on the phone trying to helicopter manage every single tiny aspect of the life she should be switching off from. Terrified of flying, stressed about her family and constantly butting heads with her sisters, she would have preferred a short trip to a sushi restaurant as a present. Bianca, performed by Nicole Holm, is determined to do something special for her sister. Sweet, romantic, still single and slightly naïve, she has convinced herself that their mother left on a grand adventure, is still alive and will one day return to the daughters she loves. She has assumed the role of peace maker between her more opinionated sisters and is so desperate to recreate a family structure that she foots the bill for this entire trip. And then there is Anel (played by Margit Meyer-Rödenbeck). Twice divorced, estranged from her own daughter and struggling as a real estate agent, she seeks comfort from male attention. Her insecurities and self-sabotage are revealed slowly and heartbreakingly throughout the wait as we learn why she believes that everything is her fault and therefore has spent her entire life in a misplaced torment.
Scenic studio designed the set and costumes. Using simple, strong colours that pop they have managed to truly add to the characterisation and to create an effective and believable airport waiting area. The feeling of being stuck in an airport is greatly assisted by an amazing soundtrack by Gideon Lombard, which weaves together music, realistic sound effects and airport announcements. 3 Susters is produced by Arena Production House, in association with Innibos-Kunstefees, LW Hiemstra-trust, KWV, Clemengold, Vision Insurance and Hannon. Working with their own stage manager, Jeanne Steenkamp, obviously helps to maintain a smooth flight.
Comedy is one of the most important forms of art. It is also in many ways the hardest (although I am sure some will disagree). Comedy requires a complete understanding of the text, a complete connection with the emotions and the other actors, a slightly heightened acting style without appearing over the top, word for word perfection without ever hesitating on a line and TIMING! And this is what makes or breaks a play: the pace. The interplay between the actors. It takes forever to recover from one dropped moment. And it is rare to see a play like this. A play in which if there was a moment dropped, the actors covered it so expertly that I did not notice it. In fact, the only mistake I saw was a late lighting cue that was fixed within three seconds. This isn’t highly intellectual. It is not absurd. It is not multimedia or a completely new approach to theatre making. It is good old-fashioned comedy done right. And it is magnificent!