Brent Palmer has a sterling reputation as a writer, actor and comedian. In 2005 he wrote the award-winning play Witness and more than a decade later (and numerous other projects), Palmer is back at it with his own work, The Visit.
The play, currently at the Alexander Bar and Theatre Café, centres around Luke (Pierre Malherbe) who is married to Vanessa (Euodia Samson). She is an education psychologist and he is a teacher and amateur actor. Although he studied drama he decided to go for the “safe” option and not follow his dreams. Meanwhile, his fellow classmate, Jacob (Clyde Berning), moved to Hollywood and made a success of his life. To make matters worse, Jacob visits Luke and Vanessa, with his girlfriend, a B-grade movie star Jackie (Jenny Stead) and rubs his successful life in his face.
The play is filled with drama, South African humour and cutting-edge, though carefully chosen commentary on the political situation in South Africa. It’s poses the bigger issues of whether to give up on your dreams for stability, or whether one should leave the “broken” country. But it also delves into the personal issues of insecurity, jealousy and self-esteem. It might be a laugh-a-minute kind of play, but you can’t help but think of the social and psychological implications of the show.
Samson is an experienced actress with a credit of roles in television series such as Madam & Eve, Fishy Feshuns and Tussen Duiwels, however, her performance seemed a tad unpolished. She fell over her words a few times and her articulation could have been better. She also slipped out of character every now and again — just enough to be noticed in an intimate space such as the Alexander. But most importantly it didn’t feel like her subtext was in place; it made her performance superficial, and the success of her character was largely driven by her spontaneous personality and strong dialogue.
Berning and Malherbe delivered solid performances, with the former’s American accent sounding authentic. Berning played the role with gusto and confidence, the perfect cocktail for this egotistical character. His physique probably helped, but from the moment he entered, the audience could immediately feel his presence. He was the Hollywood star who had entered this “humble” environment.
Palmer also directed the play and deserves accolades for a job well-done. The cast utilise the small space optimally; it feels natural and uncontrived. The set design is both functional and realistic. As director he takes the audience on a journey with the characters in a systematic way. The mood of the piece shifts at the right moments and character development flows naturally.
And it’s these masterful skills that got him this far, and will surely make him soar in the future.
Fri 20th Oct 7pm R120 (R100 online)
Sat 21st Oct 7pm R120 (R100 online)
Mon 23rd Oct 7pm R120 (R100 online)
Tue 24th Oct 7pm R120 (R100 online)
Wed 25th Oct 7pm R120 (R100 online)
Thu 26th Oct 7pm R120 (R100 online)
Fri 27th Oct 7pm R120 (R100 online)
Sat 28th Oct 7pm R120 (R100 online)