Fio are breaking ground with their laudable and diverse themes in their recent work. The Mountain Top, seen at The Other Room, was an amazingly intimate look at Dr King’s hotel room the night before he was killed. An angel disguised as a cleaner comforts him on his way in a tellingly stirring play. So how does the journey to The Island fair?
Inspired by Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated in apartheid South Africa, Athol Fugard’s work follows the two inmates Winston and John (real people who have helped devised the piece). Both have been in jail for three years since they burned their passbooks, forced upon them by the Afrikaans government. They dream of escape and all the good things that await them went being free. Talk of one of them getting bail in three months, throws a spanner in the works. Will he other emanate be left about? Forgotten? More importantly, will the prison show inspired by Greek myth ever go on?
This is no nonsense theatre. The uncluttered stage is simply a platform made to look like a cell, with metal pipes above. Well done, to Fio for also having screens with audio described details on. The focal point of the show is the dynamic between the two characters within the claustrophobic space of the cell. Joe Shire and Well Mbusi make a compelling duo here, each filled their own desires concerning when and how they would leave the prison. When does the desire to escape somewhere become so intense that you would simply do anything to get out? Shire and Mbusi give urgent performances here, telling indicators of their flare, emotional grip and even humour.
Both characters put on a little stage show of Antigone, the character taken from classical Greek canon, as we she her trial. Both characters and actors come into their own in the performance within a performance, as debate over how would play the woman is key and silly props for who ever does are some amusing moments in the show. The theme concerning the right to commit an act is used in the Greek piece to speak volumes about the right of doing such acts in real life. Winston and Joe burned their passbooks and Iphigenia buried her brother (he betrayed the king), both illegal acts. We see how both acts are unjustly treated as theatre melds with reality in the final scenes of the work.
Tightly directed by Abdul Shakek, this is a tight hour and twenty minutes that goes by quick in a rollercoaster of emotions. Sound design by Dan Lawrence is soft and moody, gentle whooshing at times to compliment the word and action. All components here worked swimmingly and makes for a great work of theatre.
Weeping Tudor Productions present Bernstein Bash! At St Edward’s Church, Cardiff on Saturday 1st December 2018. Join us for songs from West Side Story, Candide and other shows. Expect recital songs and also stimulating piano piece. Join us for the rumble! Book here:
Photo Credit: Chapter Website