Reviews A myriad of emotions in Piet se Optelgoed

A myriad of emotions in Piet se Optelgoed

As I take my seat in PJ’s, I don’t know what I am about to watch. The set is made up of a blanket of black rubbish bags, brown paper and a cardboard box. Usually a set gives you a small hint about the storyline or general theme. Not Piet se Optelgoed.

Liezl de Kock performs in Piet se Optelgoed at PJs in Grahamstown on 8 July 2015 at the 2015 National Arts Festival. The show won a 2014 Standard Bank Silver Ovation award.(Photo:CUEPIX/Kate Janse van Rensburg)

Liezl de Kock performs in Piet se Optelgoed at PJs in Grahamstown on 8 July 2015 at the 2015 National Arts Festival. The show won a 2014 Standard Bank Silver Ovation award.(Photo:CUEPIX/Kate Janse van Rensburg)

The lights dim. A figure is scurrying around and beneath the sheath of brown paper like a hamster scratching in a cage. It’s Aasvoel (Lexi Meyer), a monster-like pet, the only companion to Piet (Liezl de Kock), a dirty, malformed woman (an Antjie Somers-like character) whose sole purpose is to scare naughty children into behaving well.

Their love-hate relationship is amusing and endearing. It switches from Aasvoel giving Piet back-tickles, to spitting food in her face.

A puppet man shows up. His relationship with Piet is sweet and coy at first. They hold each other, caressing each other’s faces. Then it unexpectedly escalates into a short-lived, violent love, tragically ending in him raping her. Subsequently, Piet falls pregnant. The jump from anger and helplessness in trying to defend herself from the man’s sexual advances, to the joy and love she feels when she gives birth to a faceless child is fantastic.

What struck me about De Kock’s performance was her ability to instantly change emotional states. There are a number of themes in Piet se Optelgoed, themes that require serious investment. The emotional jumps are quick, but fluid and hard-hitting. With little dialogue, you rely on body language and facial expressions to put the story together. De Kock delivers all that is necessary to understand what’s going on with Piet.

The storyline itself is ambiguous. Piet se Optelgoed is open to interpretation. You may leave unsure of what you saw, but what is certain is De Kock’s ownership of Piet’s emotions and the ability to portray them at any given moment.

I entered confused, and left much the same, but this state of confusion is welcomed.

Leah Solomon
Cue student reporter

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