Reviewer: James Napleton
A direct combination of Elizabethan theatre and the highly publicised murder of Reeva Steenkamp, Pistorius: A Shakespearean Tragedy is a fascinating performance that blends the archaic and the contemporary with varying success.
The play mainly focuses on the court case for the murder, although it also follows the events building up to and surrounding Reeva’s death. This structuring is tell-tale Shakespeare, the use of small interlinking scenes building quickly into larger dramatic exhibits. Focusing on the court case is a good choice, it provides a perfect arena for Shakespearean inspired loquacity and a battle of words. Furthermore, it allows the play to frame the trial in terms of a family feud, the murder becoming a division between two previously united families.
While at times the scenes can be compelling, the final result is patchy: the problem with taking inspiration so closely from the work of Shakespeare is that inevitably forces the audience to make a comparison. Pistorius can at times capture the grandiose drama of Elizabethan theatre but other moments feel static and slow. Overall, the performance fails to add that moment of incendiary drama that always emotionally ignites a Shakespearean play.
The script, however, is accomplished and offers a thoughtful blend of Elizabethan language with modern vernacular: ‘please don’t drink what thou has drunk half-empty’. Written in iambic pentameter, the famous metre of The Bard, the language of the play has a satisfactory musicality. The strength of the writing lies in the combination of simple clarity and this rich and unique writing style. The performances capture this well, rejecting a Shakespearean tradition they present the characters naturalistically, therefore, helping the audience to connect with the dialogue and the and the scene. Overall, this is an entertaining theatrical experiment that delights on several levels.
Runs until 26 August 2017 | Image: Contributed