Last night was the ‘world premiere’, as Simon Cooper (owner of The Kalk Bay Theatre, theatre producer and all round theatre lover) proclaimed of Nicholas Spagnoletti’s play London Road. It was a glamorous affair at my favourite independent theatre in Cape Town.
I feel like I have already been on a long journey with London Road, having seen both staged play readings of the play over the years, so I felt like I knew what to expect from the characters and story. Wrong!
London Road is a two hander, set in sea Point. It is about the unlikely friendship that develops between Rosa (Robyn Scott), an old and sickly Jewish granny, and Stella (Ntombi Makhutshi), a Nigerian drug dealer. Lara Bye directs, with design by Craig Leo and lighting by Faheem Bardien.
I have to say that I cried. A lot. It is a very moving piece. Unexpectedly moving. And that is because this team of creators have done a fabulous job. Nicholas has written characters that any actress would die to play. Jealous is how I feel! Lara has teased out the script with Nicholas, making it subtle, poignant and very, very moving, and the actresses are completely brilliant. Craig Leo’s design, and by that I mean his magic drawers that bring out everything but the kitchen sink, is the perfect solution to the play.
Robyn Scott is a master of transformation. She becomes my great auntie Hilda. Rosa is so completely…Rosa. Her attention to detail, her weird little vocalisations, her make-up, her funny old lady sandals, her constantly moving little hand. She is a master. Ntombi Makhutsi is gorgeous, powerful and just so engaging. It is a treat to watch these two on stage.
I cannot think of a single reason why anyone in Cape Town shouldn’t see this play. It is proof that a play can grow, develop, be reworked and become something totally precious and beautiful. Bravo to all.