Tilt Republic. Johannesburg. New York. Cape Town. London.

The Verbalists

Every now and then I’ll encounter a pen that knows how. Louis Viljoen has one of those, it’s a wonderful bit of interplay; listen/read, think/respond and then smile/write. It still amazes me that little arranged blobs of ink on a piece of paper can effect me so profoundly.

Something is bothering me though; the lack of people at the show. It wasn’t empty but I noticed enough empty seats. We need to support these indie theatre people, it’s important. There are a myriad of pens serving Cape Town’s up and coming scene and the more support they get the better the quality. Their vision is simple, all we need to do is empower them with a note each and they’ll head off to their desks and write some more. The more they write, the better they’ll become, the more we spend the bigger the budget. Money spent on soliciting the time and ability of the most talented and beautiful people in our country.

That’s the deal, we club together as a city, pay our few bones when shows pop up and these Thespians get on with what they do; find the best words to match to the best people and keep our belief suspended. Pay your local play writes, it’s the right thing to do. Get involved.

Right, before I get on my own nerves….These next three days will see the last of Viljoen’s new play. The Verbalists at The Arena Theatre. A fast paced piece of high brow trash stuffed with all kinds of edge and thought provoking marginalia. 

The writing remains my favourite part of the production, as with any piece that I admire the sentiment reached for often gets confused with the actual art presented, I guess it’s an ego thing. Finding prose that meets my expectation sees my already inflated self image high five itself. Yeah, I know but you have to work with your problems, it gets too messy otherwise.

The fearlessly twisted personalities clash brutally and we see a pocket of humanity’s siff side square off with the audience. I often get a little shifty in my seat when such moments arise, I’m not used to having no where to hide, like overtaking a truck on the N1, it’s unpleasant while you’re doing it but you feel relieved afterwards, and you get there faster.

The stand off between the cynic, the pseudo neo-liberal and the pragmatic ego-less ‘straight’ was brilliantly portrayed. There’s a point when one of the characters turn on the other, dropping her mask to lash out in moment of cutting insight. There’s nothing like watching a bully getting fucked up, lovely in fact.

If you enjoy viciously intelligent dialogue submersed in nihilistic undertones, because I can’t pretend that I don’t eat that shit up wholesale, you absolutely have to watch this play.

Give me more, give me my fill of it… benevolent menaces imposing their agency beyond the borders of social decorum to effect righteousness ignobly. The evil genius, the stoic cynic, the charming sinner- give me more Mr Viljoen. Bravo.