Mark Scheepers’ great new play, Dusk, on at the Market Theatre until August 29, is a taut, twisty thriller that sucks you in over the course of an engrossing 75 minutes. A welcome return to the theatre following the June/July lockdown, this two-hander makes use of a stunning set and a brilliant cast to deliver a tightly wound story that had TheatreZA glued to the edge of our seats.
Upon entering the Mannie Manim Theatre at the Market, audience members are greeted by Karabo Legoabe-Mtshali’s magnificent set. The beautifully rendered kitchen and dining room of a farmstead includes a number of incredible details, including a working kettle and a full dining set. The oven steams and smokes when Tessa removes a dish from it, and the absolute realism of the food and drink – being consumed throughout the play – pull the audience into the idea of the “family next door” story we are peering into.
All of this is sold with captivating performances by Michelle Douglas as Tessa and Loyiso McDonald as Kgotso, who share the stage in a finely-tuned dance around the set, and around the truth. Douglas flits and flounces between lucidity and lunacy, creating a tangled web of deceit that almost adds a surrealist aspect to the story. McDonald, on the other hand, plays Kgotso with immense control, slowly removing layers of emotion and breaking down the walls of his character that suggest a rich character study of someone in Kgotso’s position in life. Busisiwe Nkabinde’s interesting costumes help to emphasize the contrast between the characters. TheatreZA particularly enjoyed the interplay between the two actors, whose contrasting styles fueled the tense atmosphere throughout the production.
Director Palesa Mazamisa, who penned and directed the excellent Shoes & Coups, turns in another great effort here, making use of Legoabe-Mtshali’s set in a wonderfully complimentary way, and coaxing pitch-perfect performances from her performers. The slow burn of Scheepers’ text is woven into a gripping aura that feels almost oppressive, in the best way possible. The hues and movement of Josias Mashiane’s light design and the subtle soundscape from Mandla Mkaba adeptly support this piece and allow the action on stage to thrive, a sure sign of expert hands.
In addition to the great theatre on display, the Market Theatre’s excellent operations ensure that all Covid-19 protocols are followed and that all audience members are kept safe and looked after. A wonderful evening out, Dusk should be on every theatre lover’s list!
Dusk is on at the Market Theatre from August 6-29. Tickets are available from the box office, the ticket hotline (083-246-4950) and WebTicket.