Rent… The iconic 90’s musical has a very aptly named song;”There’s no day but today,” which is very relevant to the society in which we live. While there are some moments that are highly specific to the 90’s, the musical lends itself to a universal “time” dealing with and discussing various socio-politcal issues such as people with an HIV positive status, relationships, gender, race, sexuality, and equality. Even though Rent is set in New York during the late 90’s it is very relevant to the current South African narrative.
While Rent’s plot is inspired by Puccini’s La Boheme and follows the story line of a struggling artists who falls in love, even though the romance is doomed, we as the audience are met by an eclectic cast of actors, film makers, musicians, lawyers, and activists… you can’t help but get invested in what you are watching.
Dean de Klerks revival of Mark Cohen was vibrant, energetic and very engaging. Throughout his performance, he maintained a strong American accent and his singing and acting abilities were outstanding. Gustav Smith as Roger Davis gave a sub par performance. His lack of connection to the songs hindered his acting and in some parts he struggled to hit some of the “high notes” that Roger has in some of his ballads.
Anzio September made his musical theatre debut and was an outstanding Angel. He conveys a positive and sassy attitude with poise and intent and quite honestly did it effortlessly not to mention how he owned dancing in heels. Angels love interest, Tom played by Arlin Bantam, was great. His acting, movement, and singing were well on point and the chemistry that was created between Tom and Angel was believable and heartbreaking. A big ups to Arlin for adapting “the show must go on” attitude when his microphone completely turned off after intermission.
Another outstanding performance was made by the lovely Namisa Mdlalose who played Joanne. Her effortless technique and gritty voice was exceptional. She performed and acted with intention and soul and for that, she must be commended. Her love interest however, Maureen played by Emily Adair, was a little lacking. During the performance of ‘Take me or Leave Me,’ Namisa completely out shined Emily, as there was a lack of connection and started off rather pitchy.
I must also take the time to congratulate every member of the ensemble (Robyn Ivey Bonolo Makhele, Keegan van Zyl, Jessica Kohler, Maya Spector, Tammy de Klerk, Leagen Phillips-Laws, Jaydon Farao, and Tara Macpherson.), their vibrant performances were amazing and each and everyone brought a different energy to the performance which truly saved some of lead actors performances.
The director, Byron Bure’s vision really come together with a very well executed and produced musical. The minimalistic set and added choreographed moments allowed the audience to form their own interpretation of the action and the surroundings.
Even with all the technical difficulties and some down moments, I did enjoy Rent and how it all came together.
Go and see it and tell us what you think!!!
Rent runs at the Artscape Theatre Centre until 25 February
Wed 22 Feb 19:30
Thurs 23 Feb 19:30
Fri 24 Feb 19:30
Sat 25 Feb 15:00
Sat 25 Feb 19:30
28 April-7 May