Wow. If you need advice on what’s good to see, see this. Ubom! has outdone themselves this year with Through Blue. It’s relevant, surprising and exciting, and will mean different things to different people. I experienced South Africa, in all its struggling through our “toekoms vol gate”, as the closing song says.
It is clear. It hits the right notes. The performances are guided yet allowed to happen in the moment. A desperately lonely world is created, balanced and enriched with a dark hilarity, and a richness of weighted content that challenges audiences to honestly engage with the scarily absurd world unfolding before us. The dark humour causes releases of sometimes a guffaw at the uncomfortable truth, or a chuckle at the familiarity of a particular character, and often a bittersweet giggle at the identification with the naivety of the heroine’s journey. You’ll laugh too.
The story can be seen simply to be about selling one’s dreams, but for me, it goes far beyond the idea of not letting your dreams go and settling for second-best. Isolation and betrayal prevail. Trust: the dangerous emotion that can hurt you if you have too much of it, is bandied about between the minor scenes and characters, until it has been as bruised and battered as the flawed characters who fumble their way through doomed lives.
The personal and political layers intertwine fluidly, with relevance to South African life, but without the didacticism which so much SA ‘political’ theatre suffers from (although I won’t label Through Blue as ‘political’ theatre).
A scrutiny of our past and present brings to the fore the pained socio-economic divide still so rampant throughout our country. Without yelling at audiences “Apartheid Was Bad!”, Through Blue subtly exposes through demands of “… pass, pass…” how the state controlled who could dream and who couldn’t or shouldn’t. Allowing the audience to experience the isolation, the helplessness, serves to far greater effect the profound impact of the country’s past on our current state.
Much rings true to what we’re faced with daily in the news. Unfulfilled promises are laid bare but with no progress in resolution, corruption is upturned and revealed in its many filthy forms with officials doing what they want to get their share of profit and power. Amongst this mess, the sacrifices of peace, love and harmony are all too easily trodden upon by the stomping boots of anonymous authorities.
The cast of seven led by the masterful Andrew Buckland, doesn’t skip a beat in their flawless performances. They are hilarious. Stylish and slick under the direction of the highly-respected Rob Murray, Through Blue will take you on a journey that you just can’t miss.
The buzz is thoroughly heating up about Through Blue (and Ubom!’s The Dogs Must Be Crazy) so if you’re after the gems of the fest, catch these shows ASAP.