The other night I was treated to a night at a theater and we saw The Syringa Tree at The Jungle. This one woman show, about growing up in South Africa during apartheid, was….astounding.
Dear Sarah Agnew – How do you make it look so easy? How do you make it seem so seamless? How do you dig so deep down and anchor yourself in a character at the turn of a dime? Where did you find that sharp focus? Also, how do you portray 22 distinct characters in 90+ minutes without a stop, without a drink of water and without looking like a sweaty wet mop at your curtain call? I think I love you. Sincerely, your new fan.
Now, this is not to say she did it all alone. First off, there’s this wonderful and complicated script. Honestly, I have a few issues with some of the script, but their very minor. It certainly made me want to learn more about a topic that I feel woefully inadequate in discussing. I need to know more about the history. But the human toll – the hatred, the discrimination, the anger. It’s heart breaking. And then, hopeful.
Furthermore, there was the brilliant directing. Joel Sass has never been a slouch, and is one of the most creative people I know. Back in the day, when he was often producing his own work, his directing style and his shows were wickedly on the edge, with artfully exaggerated images and twisted elements. It was bold, brash and exciting. This too was exciting, but I described it as “very delicate” – to which he said that it was like a “watercolor.” Exactly.
A complicated, multi-layered story, presented with ease and beauty.
As the famous Frenchman sitting behind me yelled during curtain: “Bravo!”