Young playwright enters Theatre Zone
The National Theatre of Namibia (NTN) in its theatre zone project, this week Wednesday staged the first play by young and upcoming director and playwright, Donald Zuleit Matthys. The play titled Twisted welcomed audiences into the intimate set of a middle class family home with characters that gave the title of the play a run for its money.
The theme of the play revolves around deception as the drama unfolds around the solemn life of a maid named Melissa who works for a middle class Baster family that beams with personal issues like a Christmas tree. From the onset, the play builds up tension as the opening scene starts with Melisa doing a monologue on stage in a distraught state.
Melissa, played by Ronel Ngatjiheue, heaves heavily as she describes how mundane and without purpose life has become as she has worked for the same family for 18 years, hinting at deep rooted ties as she is tempted to quit but can’t miss out on important moments.
Twisted combines unique elements of everyday problems such as alcoholism and the stigma attached to the LGBT community, how it may affect family life and the emotional repercussions such as the isolation experienced because of a non-conventional sexual orientation. Director Matthys has a sincere and even slightly controversial way of orchestrating this drama.
The movements of actors/actresses on and off stage throughout the play were smooth and there were no awkward moments of an empty set. The cast performed well on the technical aspects, managing to project clearly and keeping the audience captivated. These small elements contributed to make this debut performance a success.
However, it is the acting skills of a cast that make or break s play. The lead characters should grasp the attention of the audiences with every utterance and movement they make on stage, they should posses charisma, and a certain “follow me” element. In this sense, some elements were lacking, but this may also a case of subjectivity.
What unsettled me was that the play is littered with drama. The plot is perhaps filled with too many climaxes, as in every second scene there is an unveiling of a dirty secret, distracting from the individual idiosyncrasies and acting skills of the cast that would make their characters more human.
However, some characters such as Louisa the wife, played by Sophia Tjikune, and the neighbour Rosie, played by Peo Baitsile, had the audiences enthralled with entertaining one liners and stereotypical personas.
Director and playwright Matthys has a unique ability to write sincere dialogue, and evokes compassion from the audience as his characters portray real life issues that are relatable and sprinkled with a dose of drama, which I guess is what Twisted is all about.