The National Arts Festival might be drawing a great part of local theatre to Grahamstown, but Cape Town has definitely not been left dry. The Yellow Wallpaper at the Kalk Bay Theatre is a strong serving of local talent and this gothic thriller is rather fitting to a cold and wet evening.
Striking in her features as well as her intensity, Henri Landon takes the solo role as the sickly wife Jane who has been confined to the fresh air of the countryside by her husband, John, in hopes of a speedy recovery. Jane’s story is told as a series of journal entries, observing her peculiar state as if she doesn’t quite understand it herself. Landon owns her character superbly, with a lurking insanity vivid beneath the surface poise as she reflects poetically on her life.
A slow madness unravels in the house that hosts Jane and John, and sometimes sister Jill. In contrast to their average names, their lives are anything but mundane as the wallpaper – a seemingly inanimate object – becomes the source of obsession for Jane’s unfolding schizophrenia. The script, created by Kim Kerfoot and Claire Watling evolves into a loquacious rollercoaster of imagery and indelible madness, picking compulsively at Jane as she observes herself slipping into the dark side under the persistence of the pattern on the wallpaper.
The Yellow Wallpaper is not a light-hearted evening out. It is gloomy and intense. But it is good. It is theatre that will have your imagination working overtime as you spiral down and into the walls with Jane, and stand in awe of Henri Landon’s artistry. It’s well worth getting out of your room, out of your head, and into Jane’s room to watch her reveal the secrets of a crazed mind.
The Yellow Wallpaper runs at Kalk Bay Theatre, Cape Town from 21 June to 2 July 2016.