By: Ayabonga Ngoma
Last week I attended the #Tobacco Twitter night held by the Market Theatre and director Sylvaine Strike for the Joburg season of the critically acclaimed play, ‘Tobacco, And The Harmful Effects Thereof’.
What is a Twitter night you ask? I would like to think of it as a trendy marketing event to get guests (most importantly those in media) to create an online buzz and awareness for that specific event via Twitter. In this case the play Tobacco showing at Market Theatre. The bonus of the night was getting backstage access before the show to speak to the cast while they were getting ready to hit the stage. I spoke to the main man, Andrew Buckland about their run at the National Arts Festival and whether an international tour was a possibility after the rave reviews they received at a recent festival in Amsterdam. He certainly hoped so, and humbly told me to decide for myself whether or not the play was as great as the critics and theatre goers of its sold-out Grahamstown and Cape Town showings suggested.
Great it was. Twitter was put on hold in a packed Barney Simon Theatre for 70 minutes of uninterrupted brilliance. I didn’t think of anything else during that time but devouring what Andrew served up to the audience in a faultless, tirelessly athletic, humorous and sometimes depressing performance. The cast only consisted of Andrew Buckland and the fierce Toni Morkel as his bossy, abusive and ridiculously fertile wife. What Toni adds to what may be called a one-man play, is fantastic and dramatically necessary each time she appears in support of the story. The staging is minimal with just a shape-shifting lecture podium, a briefcase and a golden phonograph. Buckland uses every inch of the stage and props to convey the desperation of a man burdened by regret and wanting nothing more than to be heard, even by an imaginary audience. Everything really comes together with Sylvaine’s direction, the epic performances and the use of sound and lighting to create moods, time-lapses and emotion in each scene.
The title may lead you to think that the play is some sort of PSA on tobacco and why not to consume it, but it is so much more than that. So much more that I even reflected on my own life and what exactly it is that I want out of it based on the outcomes experienced by the lead character.
Tobacco is currently showing until the 6th of March at the Market Theatre. If this post didn’t convince you to go see it, go anyway to make your own judgement.
Check out Market Theatre – Tobacco, and the Harmful Effects Thereof for more info & bookings.
Ayabonga is just a small town boy, livin’ in Johustleburg. Governed by music. An extroverted introvert. Curious mind, but never nosy. Engineer who is a wannabe creative. Find him on Twitter: @Ayab0nga