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WRITTEN AND DIRECTED by Philip Rademeyer
CAST: Gideon Lombard as Boy, Ella Gabriel as Actor
UNTIL: June 29
VENUE: The Barney Simon Theatre at Joburg’s Market
HOW often do we look at and judge others, rather than turn that razor-sharp glare on ourselves? Why is the world so intent on destroying anything that doesn’t conform to what is viewed by “society” as the norm?
We pride ourselves on a constitution that is lauded the world over, and yet prejudice is rife and people discriminate against anything and anyone they regard as “the other”.
These are some of the issues targeted in this hard-hitting play which sets a young man apart and “allows” him to view from the outside, his world and the way he is treated for being in love with another man.
It is an emotional and vulnerable journey as “Boy”, dressed down in white underwear, is locked up in a place while hoping the future will free him.
He has been granted a tape which contains interviews with various people from his life, and the story of judgement unfolds as they proceed to tell us about his homosexuality, and why they have either turned their backs on him or embraced him, albeit with shame.
The play was inspired by a US pastor’s comment that gays and lesbians should be contained in isolated enclosures and ultimately killed, as well as laws in various African countries that condemn and outlaw homosexuality.
While homosexuality is the focus here, the play could be about any discrimination that condemns someone simply for who or what they are – like gender, race, disfigurement, disability or religion. Take your pick. The world likes turning its back on those who are in some way different.
This is an especially strong story in a country battling with prejudice on so many different levels. Because the young man is displaying his life with such clarity, in order to try to make sense of the way he has been treated, the senselessness of the hatred, which he hopes will pass, and probably will as the world moves on to its next target, is shown exactly for what it is.
That’s what makes this such a hard play to watch. In this troubled world, why would so many take the time to waste their energy on something that affects no one but the individuals themselves?
The fascinating thing about The View is the way this young playwright has chosen to speak about these issues, and also how they are presented.
Gabriel’s performance is instantly gratifying, as she pulls off playing a range of characters in exceptional fashion.
Lombard, on the other hand, has a trickier task. His performance is stripped, vulnerable and entirely innocent. There’s an honesty in how he portrays the young man that pulls you into the story.
From the script and storytelling side, perhaps a little less obvious and heavy-handed use of certain theatrical devices, such as the repetition of certain words, would have been more effective.
And the melodramatic ending pulled off brilliantly by Lombard will probably divide audiences.
Personally, I would have liked more subtlety, which might have resulted in a more profound impact. Best of all, this is theatre that gets you thinking about the issues as well as the production techniques.