When a hunting weekend starts with a group of friends getting drunk, and ends with one of them being murdered, it is clear something has gone horribly wrong.
Manne, presented at this year’s SU Woordfees in Stellenbosch, tells this exact story. On the face of it, it might seem quite simplistic to stage this scenario, but when was the last time you saw a mountainous terrain being presented on stage? It’s not an easy feat, and the acting and technical qualities of the play help create this difficult landscape.
The play was written and directed by renowned 7de Laan Actor and Director Chris Vorster. These days this esteemed theatre maker is a lecturer at the University of the Free State. Vorster also plays the character of Daan, the farmer on whose property the weekend is taking place. His character is arrogant, insulting and is very narcissistic in his thinking. But would this ultimately lead to his downfall? Vorster portrays Daan with confidence and bravado, he looks at ease in the role of the chauvinistic farmer.
The other cast members include Hannes Brümmer, and 7de Laan actors Francois Lensley, Theodore Jantjies and Hennie Jacobs. Jantjies and Brümmer deliver stellar performances. Their characters often provide comic relief, and their timing is absolutely spot-on. They also masterfully navigate over and around the rostrums on stage to give life to the landscape. Brümmer’s intonation is sublime and in-tune with the humorous lines. One can see he has had vast theatre experience.
Lensley, however, delivers a disappointing performance. His character is a rich businessman with too much arrogance for his own good, but ultimately goes through a range of emotions. Unfortunately, Lensley presents his character’s intricate emotional turmoil quite one-dimensionally. He shows a mediocre grasp of the subtext and whilst the bravado seems to come naturally for the actor, he never really develops throughout the play.
Despite the subject matter, don’t expect a serious production. The play is filled with hilarious reactions, witty puns and comedic situations that can only be experienced in person.
The production makes use of an innovative projection screen to tell the story; morphing theatre and film into a single genre. The projections are not merely added commentary, but essential parts of the story are being told through this medium. It creates a unique theatre experience where the lines are blurred.
One of the characters, the detective investigating the case (played by Deon Coetzee), exists only on-screen. With the method of mixing the forms of storytelling he becomes part of the show, a distance is not created.
Vorster is genius in how he presented the mountainous landscape. With just a few rostrums, the actors constantly create different scenarios: whether they are driving in a car, hiding behind rocks, and just when you think you have seen it all, they are on a peak of one of the hills.
Manne will make you laugh and forget about your own problems for a while. Even if you go see the production just to see how the actors use the rostrums made of Lego blocks, it will absolutely be worth it.
See the show at US Woordfees, see link for details www.woordfees.co.za
Other runs include:
KykNET Hoërskoolsaal for KKNK Festival
30 Maart 09:30; 31 Maart 18:00; 1 April 18:00; 2 April 14:00