It is not often that South African theatre ventures into new territory outside the classic international works or material which is of local interest, so it was wonderful to attend the opening of The Old Man and the Sea at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square in September 2017.
Based on the book of the same title by American novelist and short story writer, Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961), the adaptation of The Old Man and the Sea as a play by Nick Warren and the staging thereof by Jenine Collocott is both riveting and entertaining.
Hemingway’s life was interesting and inter alia he served as an ambulance driver in World War 1, a foreign correspondent in France and later in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, and in London during World War II. He lived in the Florida Keys and in Cuba, married four times, won a Pulitzer for The Old Man and the Sea (1952), the Nobel prize for literature (1954) and committed suicide in 1961.
The work is set in Cuba and uses a circular revolving set (Alistair Findley) with simple props, Collocott’s trade mark masks, puppetry (the old man puppet is by Alida van Deventer), and some more conventional theatre devices. All round Collocott creates a charming and tender work which is both easy to watch and easy to love.
The Snow Goose and Making Mandela, both works by the same creative team (Contagious Theatre),have both played at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square and the themes in The Old Man and the Sea of existence, survival, brotherhood and pride found their place in a similar style of story-telling that doesn’t become tired.
The three actors who appear in the work are James Cairns, Taryn Bennett & Jaques de Silva. Each of their characters works brilliantly and distinctly, and one is never in doubt as to who is who. The wonderful sound design is by Steve Clarke with original music is by Sue Grealy.
One does not need to know the original story in order to enjoy this play.
Venue: Auto and General Theatre on the Square, Nelson Mandela Square, Cnr Sandton Dr and Rivonia Rd, Sandton until 7 October 2017.
Time: Tue to Sat 8.15pm | Sat 6pm
Cost: R70 – R140