Went to see Highway Crossing or Tale of a Golden Fish last night at the Intimate Theatre. The result? Insomnia. A delicious insomnia. But now I’m grumpy. So I thought that before I get into this, I better check out this Jaan Tatte guy (he’s the playwright), find out who the fuck he thinks he is and maybe send him an e-mail asking for directions to his house. So I can kiss him. And then punch him in the face. And maybe kiss him again. But this will more than likely not happen since it would terrify his wife and sons and I’m a pacifist sometimes. Also, he lives in Estonia. (Because he’s Estonian)
Anyhoo, got onto Vikipeedia and got his info. But it came out all monkeydrool so I hit the button that says “barbarous tongue converter”, no wait I mean “translate” and I got the following:
Tuletõrjeteemalisel kirjandivõistlusel sai koolis kolmanda, rajoonis teise ja vabariigis esimese koha. Firefighting kirjandivõistlusel debate on the school received a third, the second division and the Government in the first place.
True as titties. After laughing and some consideration, I figured it in some way apt, since the play was of the Absurdist variety and it did fuck with my mind in the most beautiful of ways. Hence me wanting to pull a kiss / punch / kiss maneuver on the Tatte. Because that is also what the play does.
There’s the first kiss: you walk in, sit down, look at the design and go “what the…?” The light shifts in a De Chirico way, there is the sound of a blade being sharpened and someone mutters something about a blob of jam and trousers. This is Oswald, played to perfection by Andrew Laubscher.
A couple rocks up (Laura and Roland, played by Deborah Vieyra and Louis Viljoen) seeking shelter from the freezing cold for the night. There’s a whole bunch of “should I stay or should I go” and then some stuff goes down.
Then the punch: an Indecent Proposal. Much like the movie but with props that look like they’ve been done by Giorgio Morandi.
Then the second kiss: Lehm poiss läheb. Koos pizza! (and in a rather Tarantinoesque fashion, I might add.)
As a piece of Absurdist Theatre, it checks all the boxes: the register of language is discordant with the social setting (probably emphasized by the translation); the characters are seemingly ordinary people who encounter an extra-ordinary situation; the convention of a pre-established disbelief on behalf of the audience is challenged at some point; there is a thematic exploration of human nature (in this case, expressions of Greed, Lust, Desire); the rules of logic are challenged, changed and reinstated (though Aristotle would dig it, I’m sure); existential undertones support the framework of the narrative; shit gets bizarre on you for a moment or two.
As for the performances: Laubscher is subtle and powerful, riding the current of Oswald’s calculated mania like a red squirrel on a glass surfboard. He is beautifully contrasted by Viljoen’s witty, speech-impeded Roland. Viera exudes a sparkling darkness like vanilla ice-cream in the night sea or Katherine Hepburn in a bath of Calamata olives. Her Laura is captivating. Jason Potgieter was fun to watch. (There was no reference to the character’s name. A programme would have been nice)
The direction was there, but not there. In a very good way. If you’ve seen Guy de Lancey on stage before, you’ll know what I mean. There seemed to be an incredible ease, a relaxed but intensely focused synergy between the performers. They didn’t force themselves on the text and the text didn’t force itself on the audience. Like a Rasta on a bicycle. All the action was well-motivated (no extraneous kak) and the underlying “filmic” quality of the mis-en-scene (fuck French spelling) made it easy on the eye.
As for what it does to the mind… Well, it’s darkly funny and rather quirky at times. It’ll also get you thinking though. So be prepared: if you’re the type of person who just doesn’t “get” things, then maybe this isn’t for you. (Rather go see Mama Mia) If you’re the type of person who enjoys: Ionesco, Beckett, Tarantino, Sartre, James Dean, Ayn Rand, Albee, Jaan Kaplinski, girls in undies, fishing, Grimm’s Fairytales, pizza, Matisse’s Green Stripe (for the chromatic division in the lighting), or bungee jumping, – then I say don’t look a gift-fish in the gills, – you absolutely must go see this thing.