On the last day of fest, just a day or two before I (and I suspect most of us) have to return to selling our dreams in return for lucre and security, I go see Through Blue.

I knew it would be melancholy, I knew it ended on that most heartbreaking Johannes Kerkorrel song about Hillbrow, but I figured that’s ok, I would embrace the sadness. Stare straight into the heart of the abyss. I was hoping to be brought to an ocean of tears that would allow me to float my ship of sorrows, set sail on the festival blues.

But nah! It didn’t happen. Not because Through Blue is bad. In fact I thought much of it was really quite good, parts of it were very, very  good, but not good enough overall to take me on the emotional journey I was hoping to experience.

The performers were great, particularly Liezl de Kock and Ilana Cilliers. Andrew Buckland can’t go wrong as a drunken bergie and new talent Buhle Ngaba was born for clowning. The incorporation of some of the most heart-rending South African songs from the ‘80s and wonderfully imaginative touches, such as the bureaucrats with their brown files, made for some brilliant scenes. If the entire work could have maintained those levels this would have been a haunting piece of theatre.

Unfortunately the imaginative flow, which I feel is essential to this metaphorical work which deals with the question of integrity in the face of corrupting power  - a question we all face – was erratic.

Perhaps my inability to remain captivated throughout was that I know director Rob Murray’s work too well, and he offered no surprises. Murray is a fantastic, creative director and has been at the helm of award-winning shows as creative director of non-verbal company FTH:K. I was expecting him to now be moving in a new direction with Ubom!, perhaps by putting his creativity to work with more text-based work . However, he’s only been with Ubom! for six months so I’ll cut him slack.

Through Blue allowed me to enter the dream world it evokes, but then left me standing there, waiting to be led to ocean of souls that had been bought and sold. — Steve Kretzmann


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