A rich, thought-provoking, multi-media production of an overly dramatised psychological thriller that is simply but expertly put together – with design by Illka Louw and video by Sanjin Muftic – with a single giant projector screen, two portable room dividers, a couple of skilfully handled video recorders and a centre table. Directed by Mark Fleishman with Faniswa Yisa, DJ Mouton, Jennie Reznek and Mandisi Sindo, Autopsy marks Magnet Theatre’s 25th year. These last four extremely seasoned actors, all of whom have the uncanny ability to effectively and effortlessly morph character with a mere change of a hat, a coat, a wig or simply a posture, completed this 11-character production. The result is a masterful delivery of a story that speaks of betrayal, corruption, murder and the diverse human psyche.
Depicted in rural South Africa, Autopsy is a disturbingly funny dark comedy which tells the tale of a suspicious suicide and the city-slick, state-appointed medical examiner commissioned to perform the autopsy. Although skilled and intelligent, she arrives at a disadvantage after an unfortunate car crash, and soon discovers that she may be in way over her head when confronted by the bizarre characters of this rural village. Battling on, but becoming more and more entwined in the dark past that surrounds the village, our medical examiner has her resolve repeatedly tested. She soon discovers that here, the age-old quest for money and power is the order of the day. Allies become enemies and enemies become friends.
I was left with my jaw hanging at witnessing the physical strength of the four actors on stage. Flavoured with expertly choreographed physical (and physically demanding) theatre, the scenes offered intrigue, drama, laughs and much to think about. Adding to the existing talent of the four actors was the excellence of the production team who produced a stage setup so striking that it almost distracted from the acting, and the theatre itself which added much to the eerie ambience required for setting the ominous stage.
The story ends in a conclusion that is open to personal interpretation and speculation. What an experience! If you have a healthy relationship with your dark side and would like to get in touch with it, Autopsy is a must-see. Go armed with an alert and open mind and be prepared for a hair-raising evening.
by Andrea Cibrario
Autopsy runs at the Magnet Theatre until 1 April 2012