Uncategorized Iago on AIDS

Iago on AIDS

AIDS, that perennial party-pooper, is the theme linking Iago’s Last Dance’s three playlets.

At the mention of HIV, eyes tend to glaze over cynically at the prospect of heavy-handed public service announcements or moral hand-wringing.

A big question hanging over the production is, does it circumvent the AIDS fatigue many audience members have incurred from media-saturation?

Thankfully the answer is more yes than no.

Mike Van Graan, he of the pen that frequently goes boom-boom, finds in Lara Bye a director that manages to massage added life, nuance and dark humour into the text.

His script is well-suited to her Brechtian approach, which gives vent to the occasional didacticism while being nimble enough to project real emotion.

Social evils

Sure, Iago does occasionally creak under the weight of its ideas, but not enough to bury it as a mere pedagogical platform.

The play explores the issue of AIDS and other social issues within classical frameworks, notably Medea and Othello.

It consists of three playlets: Heartbreak Medea, Iago’s Last Dance and Vuyo’s Revenge.

While each is a complete story within itself, the stories interconnect at certain points.

All of the stories have devastating endings. In the tradition of Brecht, this is not subtle stuff.

There is a message to be imparted, and it doesn’t matter if real people don’t speak in liberal rhetoric.

At the end of the whole thing, even if one doesn’t agree with Van Graan’s politics, you feel battered by laudable ideology.

Compelling acting

AIDS denialism, inefficient health services, government apathy, bourgeois indifference and good ol’ Thabo and Manto come under fire.

The action is stirring, propelled by great acting.

The performances are generous and of high quality.

Mbulelo Grootboom is a highly physical actor who brings tremendous energy to his performance.

Jan-Hendrik Opperman gets the least explosive roles but does much with them, particularly in Vuyo’s Revenge as a conflicted ex secret police officer.

The production is studded with few visual touch-points.

Power play

In Iago’s Last Dance, Andre presents his beloved Lerato with an O-shaped necklace, while both male characters wear red ties reminiscent of AIDS ribbons.

Faheem Bardien’s stark lighting throws the characters into sharp relief.

Van Graan is one of the country’s most valuable political agitators and Iago’s Last Dance shows him at his polemic, trouble-making best.

The firm hand of Bye is the trump card here, helping deliver powerful political theatre.

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