Wry and heartwarming

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OSCAR AND THE PINK LADY

DIRECTOR: Lara Bye

CAST: Sandra Prinsloo

VENUE: The Golden Arrow Studio, Baxter Theatre

UNTIL: August 23

RATING: ****

SANDRA Prinsloo (pictured) gives a powerful and considered performance in this English version of a French book about a dying little boy.

She effortlessly slips between little boy and little old lady, creating two fully realised people who interact in a credible way. Not only does her speech pattern change, but her physical movements oscillate between child and adult in a very precise wayEven as the child’s physical well-being deteriorates, it is still obviously the child. And, when she is the little old lady she isn’t Sandra Prinsloo, she is Rose the retired wrestler who doesn’t tell lies and moves in a different way to the woman who takes the bows at the end.

The tiny stage of the Golden Arrow Studio is deliberately dark, with Pieter-Jan Kapp’s effective lighting emphasising only the table in the middle, which serves as bed, cupboard and desk as needs be.

Little Oscar is dying and he knows it and he is not exactly impressed by the way the adults around him are handling it. He is a wry little creature, observant in his own way and quite funny too. His levity-inducing observations help to leaven what could have been a very sad sob story.

Rose is the more difficult character to play because she is the one emotionally touched by Oscar and this has to be apparent in order to bring us into the story, even more than the other way around, but Prinsloo manages to keep it together even as the audience starts to reach for the tissues.

The lady in the pink jacket helps Oscar live a full life in his head with a crash course in how to use your imagination, allowing him to experience a gamut of emotions which many adults never achieve.

Emotionally affecting, the play will have you in tears by the end – not because it is overly sentimental but because it packs an empathetic punch which is eventually more heartwarming than bleak.

We are brought into Oscar’s world as he faces death, and he teaches us that a child’s simple view of the world can cut right through the layers of baggage adults drag along because we become more obsessed with what people think of of us than what we can experience if we only take the chance to interact with people on more than just the surface.

• This English version has been translated from the Afrikaans, with some very South African references and for this week only (between August 5 and 9) Prinsloo will also perform the Afrikaans version.


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