The Travellers won the Naledi Best Cutting Edge award in 2005, so I was particularly looking forward to seeing it at The Laager in the Market Theatre Complex, when it opened recently.
Directed by Sylvaine Strike of The Fortune Cookie Company on “the smallest stage imaginable”, the production is a delight.
The story line is simple. By billing a boy, Irving (Daniel Buckland), and a girl, Iris (Shelley Meskin), as “identical twins” (yes, I know pigeon pairs, by their very nature, cannot be identical), Mamma Myrtle Frost (Toni Morkel), a mediocre vaudeville performer, ekes out an existence in the world of theatre long after she would have been forced to retire as a solo artist. This is the story of the resultant family dynamics.
It is in the tightly crafted script and the precise skills of the actors that this piece comes to life. From the moment Myrtle Frost appears on the stage one dismisses her as an aging, inept vaudeville actress (a role for which she earned a Naledi nomination last year), while one feels sympathy for the children from the moment one sees them, way back when they’re still cute little babies who somehow fail to make the same impression on their mother as they do on the real audience. Yes, there’s a real audience and an imaginary audience in this one, and we, the audience, know when we are both.
Engineer and set designer Chen Nakar has created a revolving “stage” complete with a curtain so that one can watch the lives of the family from both front of house and ‘back-stage’. Without this particular set, the play could not work as well.
There is no down side to this production and I highly recommend that theatre lovers make an effort to see this one.
The Travellers is on at The Laager until the 24 of September. Book at Computicket.