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FULL STOPS ON YOUR FACE
DIRECTOR: Penelope Youngleson
CAST: Iman Isaacs
VENUE: The Intimate Theatre, Hiddingh Campus
Entering the theatre, it is hard not to notice performer Iman Isaacs (pictured), seated on the floor, meditating before a short Japanese sword.
While she is contemplating the weapon Lulu Xingwana is pronouncing some namby- pamby government-speak on a programme about violence against women, the kind of government-speak designed to switch you off.
The boring voice drones on and on, so by the time it fades away you are totally relaxed.
Suddenly, Isaacs leaps up, launches herself around the room in a truncated kata, swinging the sword around like she means business.
Matter-of-factly, she explains that she has just committed mass murder because she really could not take it any more. Going on the principle of “hurt them before they hurt me”, she has used violence, the usual preserve of the male, to voice her dissatisfaction with the status quo.
But while the main character is okay with the idea, various bit players in her life are confused. Through Isaacs they express disbelief, while a policeman tasked with profiling the perpetrator of the mass murder is even more disparaging of eye-witness accounts that it was a woman who murdered all these people.
Women don’t do this kind of thing, is the over-riding response, and yet that is exactly what she has done.
Isaacs plays the main character at various ages, which is confusing because there is no time marker to make that immediately apparent. She clearly delineates the mother from the cop, the teacher from the per- petrator, but she never totally convinces as the main character because she still comes across as soft and not so totally embittered as to take the violent route.
Clever and insightful, yes, totally crazy, no.
Penelope Youngleson’s script is dripping with cynical observations and insightful bons mots which tease at the stereotype that violence is the preserve of the male. She questions just what is natural behaviour for a woman when we are subjected to so much physical and mental violence that it has become part of your life to the point of building coping strategies into your daily routine.
When in the murdering girl character, Isaacs leaps around the stage with commitment, playing with the weapons like old friends, which is a particularly disturbing sight when the soundtrack to her every move is an electronic version of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
The soundscape is also a great help in separating the characters, but the lack of resolution to the narrative means the message is diluted by a lack of focus.
Since this is the play’s first iteration, it may yet gain a more solid ending, but already it entertains and gives the audience food for thought.