Jazzara Pienaar and Nathan Lynne in A Lie of the Mind

A Lie of the Mind

Director: Christopher Weare

Cast: Students of the UCT Drama Department

Venue: The Little Theatre

Until: March 8

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

Beverley Brommert

Brilliant staging and commendable portrayals from a committed young cast serve Sam Shepard’s A Lie of the Mind handsomely.

Christopher Weare’s well-judged direction keeps the pace unflaggingly brisk to ensure that audience attention remains focused throughout the drama’s lengthy agenda as the action switches between the snows of Montana and the sunny skies of Southern California.

Seating the audience on the stage, with projections and sets at either side to evoke the two contrasting fields of action, is an inspired move: in practical terms, it obviates the necessity for frequent and cumbersome scene changes, and at the same time it promotes audience involvement in the domestic drama that forms the plot.

The play’s emotional temperature turns feverish as protagonists confront one another in the aftermath of an attempted murder. Old animosities surface like dormant boils to have their poison lanced and truths massaged into temporary oblivion return to be faced, all of which generates intense drama that not even occasional throw-away lines of black humour can alleviate.

On the whole, the actors manage their American accents creditably, although there are lapses from time to time. Most of the characters are young, roughly the same age as the students playing them, making their interpretation relatively easy. Older personae present more of a challenge and Dylan Owen, as the irascible chauvinist Baylor, is impressive in the way he interna-lises his character.

Cameron Robertson in the exacting role of Jake makes this volatile and violent young man wholly credible. Full marks to Amelia Vernede (Sally) and Skye Russell (Lorraine) for their plausible handling of the animosity between mother and daughter in their prickly exchanges.

Since all the characters are antipathetic in one way or another, facile interpretation is not an option and Weare’s insightful direction combined with the young actors’ natural talent achieves the high-calibre performance requisite for a Shepard play. Well done!