One-stop quality & comfort sportswear destination
An Audience with Miss Hobhouse
DIRECTOR: Christopher Weare
CAST: Lynita Crofford
VENUE: Rosebank Theatre
UNTIL: September 15
Cape Town - One woman, some battered props, a shawl and an apron, plus one or two items of male headgear, somewhat the worse for wear… that is all it requires, as well as directorial skill and considerable acting talent, to generate an hour of engrossing theatre.
Such is Tony Jackman’s one-hander, An Audience With Miss Hobhouse, the poetic and articulate script of which is brought vividly to life by Lynita Crofford and director Christopher Weare.
The emotional impact of the work is enhanced by the intimacy of a miniscule venue that seats a mere 40 patrons, which gives the audience the illusion of participating (albeit passively) in this highly charged monologue.
Although Emily Hobhouse is the anchor of the piece, several other characters are introduced to add texture and diversity to the script.
Chief of these is the Afrikaner materfamilias who loses everything she holds dear in the course of Anglo-Boer War hostilities: with impressive economy of means, the formally dressed, reserved Miss Hobhouse is instantly metamorphosed into a down-to-earth, anguished farmer’s wife watching the destruction of her home and livelihood.
Crofford never misses a beat in switching from clipped British diction to Afrikaans-accented English – and it’s not just the accent that reflects the character change.
Body language, vocal register, even personality, are all modified to convey the different personae.
Crofford is an accomplished mimic, a quality necessary for the diverse secondary roles she interprets in this production.
She reproduces a variety of accents, from broad Scottish to upper-class English, with a dash of Cockney and Australian along the way. Only the latter still needs some work – the others are impeccable and sustained.
Sound effects play their part in evoking the events covered in the course of this “audience”: a train’s steam engine, a ship’s siren, the gallop of horses’ hooves, and the ironic strains of Rule, Britannia doubling as rousing preface and depressing epilogue.
Their function is of ancillary importance, however, since it is Jackman’s richly scripted text that conjures up the landscapes, mental as well as physical, traversed by the spirited Miss Hobhouse.
There could be few more appropriate works to hit the stage this month of August, used traditionally to celebrate the independence, resilience and courage of women, whether in the form of rebellion against an unjust status quo, or simply the endurance of sorrow and adversity while awaiting better times. - Cape Argus Tonight