When: July 21-29, 2023 at 11am with a 7pm performance on July 29, in addition to the 11am show
Where: Baxter Flipside
Director: Roshina Ratnam
Designer: Hansie Visagie and co-created by the Magnet Theatre Youth Company
Company: Magnet Theatre Youth Company – Azola Mkhabile, Buhle Stefane, Kuhle Myathaza, Lindokuhle Melaphi, Mihlali Bele, Molupi Lepeli, Nosiphiwo Ndabeni, Siphenathi Siqwayi, Sipho Kalako, Thabo Mkenene and Wendy Mrali
Bookings: Webtickets. Link at http://www.baxter.co.za/surge
Magnet Theatre Youth Company’s Surge, on in the Baxter Theatre Flipside, is an extraordinary theatre experience. This season is on until July 29, 2023. Beautiful puppets conjure up a vivid landscape with a story which had me on the edge of my seat. This is a lyrically poignant and magical theatre experience which wraps itself around the viewer. Please do not miss Surge.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the opening, a week ago (July 21). I saw Surge yesterday and was overwhelmed by this production which is pitched to young audiences (not tots – this is not for young, young kids in my opinion).
I expected a theatre piece “about” climate change. Yes, Surge engages with climate change but it goes way beyond the usual youth focused narrative: “It is our world. We only have one world. We must look after it – before it is too late”.
Surge, under the direction of Roshina Ratnam is a powerful meditation on land, colonialisation, occupation, subjugation, dispossession, repression, theft, alcohol abuse and a lot more. It presents a powerful intersection of the personal, political as it collides with nature; the universe.
The puppets play out of the heartbreaking narrative which hinges around two central characters – and their actions. When one is looking to survive, what does one do when “moolah” is on the table? Surge drives home that ultimately, we all have to be cognisant about the paths that we take in the long term. Plot spoiler alert: If we don’t, we may be faced with a flood, a deluge of biblical proportions, with us all drifting, adrift in a landscape which has been stripped of every resource.
The images are tenderly portrayed. There is the surge of the ocean -“dive-swim”, fish and growth. I went “ahh” as the germination of seeds is conjured up with plants sprouting, after being watered by a watering can. This is the sheer magic of puppet theatre – the so called inanimate object coming to “life” on stage – enthralling us as we believe in them as beings. The puppets are beautiful and whimsical, with a highly considered use of the medium. At one point, bodies of the performers provides a platform, a puppet theatre for the puppets. The physical theatre in Surge is a master class – puppets, puppeteers – working as one body.
Plot spoiler: In the wake of death, for the vulnerable young person, there is violence (that is why this piece is not for little ones – I would say – not for under 10s) and ultimately utter devastation. Often people are flummoxed when they see reports of a once thriving community, which once had natural resources. Surge may be anchored around “climate change” issues but it transcends “issues” and is an achingly beautiful and powerful piece of theatre with puppets, incredible puppeteers/performers, song and movement/dance. Surge is a wow.
✳ Featured image: Lindokuhle Malaphi, Siphenathi Siqwayi and Sipho Kalako in Surge. Pic: © Eric Miller.