By Veronika Kallus
A dusty, washed out sequence of fair tales, modern Mozambican tales. Of men and women, of husbands and wives: Death, murder, mysteries – there are many facets of relationships represented in these five stories – but none is quite a vibrant and clear and straight forward as one would have wanted it to be. A certain vagueness remains – you can never complete the picture.
Maybe this is just the feeling Mia Couto’s writing is meant to leave us with. Life is torn, post-colonial life even more. And what the audience gets from Magnet Theatre is just that. Pieces of stories, torn pieces of a story, never complete, never ending, never fully satisfying. Brilliance, subdued.
The cast show a stunning display of body-control and versatility. Acting, movement, song, rhythm, dance, monologue are all perfectly performed – but only in their rudimentary form.
Thoughts are not thought out, talents are not played out. The pictures never get the finishing stroke. A balance, willingly unbalanced. Brilliance willingly subdued. Clarity of voices willingly baffled. Scenes willingly left unfinished.
All colours are also wiped out by thick layers of white dust – on the faces, the clothes and hair. Only during the performance do these layers get wiped off or shifted on to other surfaces, and the actors gain more sharpness.
This is not what a regular audience member would expect from a South African physical theatre company, but it is gaining depth and dimensions with every further thought spent on it. A difficult performance to watch, very demanding, sometimes lengthy, yet full of promise. Waiting for this promise to be fulfilled is what keeps everyone going. Yet – you can never complete the picture.