The Vulture Photography project celebrates and supports the work of South African theatre-practitioners. We showcase and feature various aspects of the South African Theatre industry, from stage productions to awards ceremonies and festivals. Accompanied by Performing arts Photography, the project aims to give our readers a descriptive and visual experience of the local theatre industry.

Daar's ‘n Vreemdeling in my bed… Unforgettable, or not?

January 27, 2019

A play about forgetting that seared itself into my memory. And I must be honest, the odds were stacked against me staying awake. After two weeks of an intensive course, I was relieved to see this play was only 45 minutes, not because I did not think it would be good, but because I was not sure I would be able to get my tired brain to keep up.  Daar's ‘n Vreemdeling in my bed, a collaboration between Liese Kuhn and Laura-Lee Mostert of A Frikken Playhouse Productions, explores the interplay between living in the now and remembering in the future…. Or past…

 

 

It is the poignant story of Amelia, a young woman who sees her grandfather steadily decline due to Alzheimers and then discovers that she herself may be genetically predestined to suffer the same fate. In an attempt to counteract this, she becomes obsessed with capturing moments and memories, trying desperately to remember everything and in the process forgetting to live in the moment. The story weaves in and out of different emotions, memories and time frames in the dreamlike manner that is close to the disjointed way our memories work. The stories touch on family moments, the complications of the disease in a relationship and the archiving of unimportant, yet vivid, moments of an ordinary life. It premiered with three performances at the Alexander Bar and Theatre in January 2019 after an intense two-week rehearsal process. 

 

 

 

The play was co-written by the director and performer. Their friendship, honesty and intimacy bring a real authenticity to the writing. The joy of the process can be seen onstage and is necessary to counteract the harshness of what is happening to Amelia. Liese describes the play as a dramedy. I felt it was mostly a deep and heartbreaking drama, not because I did not laugh, but because every laugh contained a twinge of pain and sadness. The comedy came through effortlessly, undercutting the tension and making it possible to keep from breaking down and sobbing. The visual feast of set, projection and lighting made every story real. It was as if we, the audience, were meeting the people, seeing the events as Amelia did.

 

It is almost impossible to believe that this is Liese Kuhns debut as a director. She has created a subtle, yet powerful production that manages to balance modern creative storytelling with a basis of the uncomplicated narrative. Take away the set, the projections, the sound, very clever and fascinating stage element and you are still left with a resonant story and brilliant acting. Laura-Lee Mostert, known for Still, Bands of Women and Sarah se Geheim, is engaged and intimate. She draws the audience in as she flawlessly transitions between fragile and painful memories and witty, sharp dialogue. An intense, yet subtle performance. 

 

 

 

The set is especially clever. The instant feeling is that the audience has fallen into Amelia’s mind and can see her memories, however as the story progresses, the sketches become real physical ways to capture life. Accompanied by cleverly placed projections, the stage becomes an added element that helps to highlight comedic moments and quickly place the audience in the appropriate setting. This helps with quick scene changes and sudden emotional shifts. It is poetic, beautiful, sad, funny, fragile and at all times slightly disturbing. A really outstanding play. It has been entered for the 2019 Woordfees Fringe, where I believe it would be an enormous success. It is a pity that the play had such a short run, as I truly believe this is a  piece everyone should see. It is difficult to truly convey the emotional journey, the visual interplay and the cleverly placed contradictions. Instead, I will stop trying and say: when you get the chance: go see Daar’s ‘n vreemdeling in my bed. You will not regret it!

 

 

 

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