The title itself had me feeling a tad like something ominous was looming large above all our heads as we sat in the “rehearsal room” inside the Monument.
As the play begins, you find yourself invariably drawn to the characters of Monica Moyo (Mimi Ndiweni), a social anthropologist who is living and pursuing her PhD studies in Sweden. And that of Jan Larsson (Nikola Ruzicic), her lover and principal at the local secondary school.
Despite their differences, these thespians get so involved in the play that they end up being immensely believable, and it’s easy for the audience to start rooting for them, especially because of their undying “never give up” attitude. That’s just until the cracks start to show.
At its crux, The Incident is a love story that interrogates how racial biases can have an impact on intimate relationships. We watch as the outside world of racial prejudice, white privilege and sexism spreads through this love bubble and causes irreparable damage.
“The incident” itself is when Monica is accused of abusing a pupil in her class. What starts off as a good deed from Monica backfires horribly and leaves her open to racist vitriol at the hands of Swedes, and a stinging betrayal by her partner seals the deal.
These themes, as discussed in the production, leaves the air thick with things unsaid. More importantly, they force the viewer to interrogate their own prejudice.
The set is a rather basic one that features four miniature trunks, with a MacBook, and the trunks double up as chairs. Scene changes are indicated by a change in lighting, a clever functional lighting technique I thought.
It’s a brilliant production because it forces the audience to interact, at the very least with a couple of gasps and the solemn shaking of heads as things go from bad to worse. However, I did think that some scenes could have been shorter.
It’s a small gripe however, and the length of some scenes in no way detracted from the overall impact of the play. For a country like ours that’s currently grappling with issues of social cohesion, The Incident is showing at the perfect time.
Joburg audiences are in luck because The Incident will be showing at POPArt in Maboneng this week, culminating in a workshop to unpack the production.
Visit: https://popartcentre.co.za/theatre/book-tickets/ for more details.