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Review: Salt (Cape Town Fringe)

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SaltAre the deluded worlds of society’s broken-minded any less real than our own? Could they be brighter, more colourful than ours? Is it right to drag those who are afflicted into the harsh light of the world as we see it?

These are some of the questions raised during the performance of Salt, playing in Cape Town as part of the Cape Town Fringe Festival after a much celebrated run at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

From the very beginning, Salt dances along the border between reality and a beautifully portrayed dreamscape. Set in a psychiatric ward in which the shadows come to life, this is a tender glimpse into an innocent and carefree life confronting a new world with wide eyes.

Aya, played by Emma Kotze, is caught implacably in the fold of two truths, one represented by the well-intentioned doctor, Thomas (David Viviers), and the other by her protective brother, Raiyu (Daniel Richards). Where and how these two worlds meet remains a mystery until the final moment of the play, a feat that is accomplished with a finesse and a directive aptitude that speaks volumes about the ability of the play’s writer and director, Wynne Bredenkamp.

The actors have a seething chemistry on stage, and their rapport with each other is so engrossing it’s hard to do justice to them individually, yet each of them are individually fascinating to watch. That may sound like an odd dichotomy, but it is reflective of the immense talent of the actors who are able to extend themselves interpersonally to create a single performance that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Salt’s blend of physical theatre and magical realism gives it the freedom to shift ethereally across scenes, so and seamlessly that the transitions are barely noticed. Similarly, the fluidity of the physically adept performers adds to the mysticism, and some of the movement sequences between Aya and Raiyu are simply beautiful.

Perhaps the most lasting impression of Salt is the imaginative world it evokes around itself. The tale is told in such an exquisitely magical realm, so is full of wonder and so lasting as to give even its tragedy an undeniable beauty.

Rory Appleton

Salt runs at the City Hall 1 to 5 October 2014 as part of the Cape Town Fringe Festival.

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