NEWS & REVIEWS

CARGO: Precious


"The practice of human zoos and ethnographic displays was also highlighted in Johannesburg this past week, during the cityís annual Arts Alive International Festival. But the all-star collaboration Cargo: Precious, which imagines the fateful sea voyage of "Hottentot Venus" Saartjie Baartman to Europe in 1814, takes a more gentle and lyrical approach to this blot on SAís history. No guerrilla tactics are needed here; just four former Standard Bank Young Artist winners ó playwright and director Sylvaine Strike, choreographer PJ Sabbagha, dancer Fana Tshabalala and musician Concord Nkabinde ó crafting a delicate piece that seamlessly melds movement, music, physical theatre and drama into a deeply moving and theatrically enriching whole. In their considered hands, Baartman is treated not as a tragic victim but rather as a full-blooded tragic heroine worthy of a Puccini opera: with love and almost reverential respect. "
Christina Kennedy, Business Day Live

"The dancers alternately move with the langour of a becalmed sea and the violence of a gale, so that, like clouds that have gathered on the horizon, they magically form into a towering, threatening formation of beauty, to next instant split apart like a thunderclap. And lull and alarm us again, successively layering surprise, calm and alarm into a continuous flow of movement to the devastating indictment of her dissection. "
Steve Kretzmann, The Cue



TOBACCO AND THE HARMFUL EFFECTS THEREOF


"Direction by Sylvaine Strike, this yearís National Arts Festival featured artist, is masterful. Strike appears to be the kind of theatre maker who will suffer nothing less than perfection, and knows what that is, giving Morkel just the right amount of play and bringing out Buckland at his letting-it-all-hang-out best, which is an experience that, like grief, never leaves over time, it merely winds its way into our soul. "
Steve Kretzmann, The Cue

"Despite its social relevance the work isnít a one-dimensional vehicle for a straight message; this is sophisticated theatre-making that probes complexities, while even titillating and entertaining the audience. This production will undoubtedly stand out at the National Arts Festival and confirms why Strike has been selected as the feature artist. "
Five star review: Mary Corrigall, The Star

"Itís a supremely well-developed piece of theatre directed by Sylvaine Strike, which intelligently and movingly, is supported with the rich array of emotional wisdom in the skill of clowning. Based on a tale by the same name by Anton Chekhov, it brings in a range of literary and cultural references, from the ballad of the Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear, to very clear and beautiful Beckettian references, to bits and pieces of Kafka, American Indian mythology... This beautiful production, armed with fine and whimsical caveats is a tonic to the emotions and a celebration of the senses. "
Robyn Sassen, My View

"Strikeís delicate touch for nuances and unspoken responses works well with Bucklandís movement skills. Itís a beautiful piece filled with humour, poignancy and energy. "
Caroline Smart, artSmart

"Buckland delivers the performance of a lifetime in a work that demands a superhuman physical and vocal discipline. The audience can expect to be delighted by his characteristic physical comedy routines and charming sincerity. However, the comic ritual between Ivan and the audience begins to unravel and the faint, sad music beneath his ramblings find beautiful expression in Bucklandís physical gestures and his unique manipulation of words in order to create a poignant portrait of human longing, need and desperation... Toni Morkel beautifully and sensitively accompanies Buckland as Ivanís wife, and Strikeís staging choices in relation to this character are superb. Throughout the play, the space comes alive in surprising ways and it acquires the quality of a marvellous Surrealist painting or a dream only half-remembered. "
Michelle du Plessis, Grocotts Mail

THE MISER


"The Work of this ensemble makes this one of the most sophisticated and luminous theatre experiences of the decade."
Paul Boekkooi, Die Beeld

"Director Sylvaine Strike has brought to life the 1668 play The Miser, and managed to give it a relevance and spunk one wouldnít expect. The costumes are fabulous, the acting sublime, and the lessons no less true today than they were centuries ago. Oh, and not to mention that razor-sharp script."
Lesley Stones, The Daily Maverick

"Illusion and reality, the past and the present, go hand in hand in the Fortune Cookie Theatre Companyís audacious reconfiguring of theatre lore... Miss Molière´s The Miser and you are sacrificing the South African production of the year (any year)."
Adrienne Sichel, The Star

"Director Sylvaine Strike chose our era of fiscal distress to stage Molière´s dark tragic-comedy, which, through its terrifyingly haunting final image, will have you judging your money-lust the next time you catch yourself staring wistfully into an empty wallet... Molière is back from 1668. Do not miss him if you can help it."
Marianthe Kaldelis, Artslink

"Staged in a place made impenetrable yet utterly vulnerable to eavesdropping, with an arc of curtains and a small ottoman centre stage, the play is so good, you donít want it to end. But end it does, with a barb in its tail. If you see one play this year, see this one. Itís a tonic."
Robyn Sassen, The Jewish Report

"...itís a dynamic, smart piece of work, packed with wit and pathos and multiple opportunities for the actors to flex their dramatic muscles... The Barney Simon is an intimate theatre, so itís possible to watch each actor closely for such nuances. Do so, and you wonít be disappointed Ė The Miser offers an excellent collective performance from its cast."
- Bruce Dennill, The Citizen

"Almost every moment could be a flawlessly staged studio photograph. The mood is a sad humour in which love tries to overcome greed, paranoia and class Ė eerily relevant to the comedy of manners South Africans currently find themselves in. I have never experienced such disarming sincerity in a farce."
Andrť Croucamp

"Sylvaine Strike time and again blows everyone away, this time with a fantastic interpretation of The Miser. She knows how to pickíem Ė from the cast to those especially striking Strike moments that keep you smiling or wiping away a tear long after you leave the theatre."
Diane de Beer, The Star

BLACK & BLUE


"Strike and Mooi display economy, comic timing and admirably filmic aesthetic. In the simple tale they unfold, lies volumes of huma"
Darryl Accone, for CUE

"Stunningly inventive"
Adrienne Sichel, The Star

"Exquisitely goofy, immaculately acted, delicately nuanced, unfolds like a flower..."
Clive Lawrence, CUE

"Black and Blue deserves to be seen, simplicity meets intricacy in what can easily be described as a tour de force or images and minimal"
Rafiek Mammom, Cape Argus, Feb 2005

"Black and Blue is a marvelous and accessible theatrical treasure. It will steal your heart and captivate your mind. Strike captures one's heart with her quiet performance... Mooi is a revelation to watch. I can think of no other way to describe this production than as a little masterpiece."
Peter Tromp, Cape Times, Feb 2005

COUPE


"In typical Strike fashion, there's a fragile balance as she beckons to the audience to enter this peculiar world. é is like a fine poem that might just drift off and disappear into the night if you don't jump on. But beware, it catches you and holds on very tightly with all the emotions swirling around you quite surreptitiously."

Diane De Beer, The Star

"It is intriguing and complex to watch, it is an intimate, polished picture of solitary l"
Mary Jordan, Business Day

"The brilliance of Sylvaine Strike and Fortune Cookie Company's conceptual flight into eccentricity lies in its delicate crafting, its subtle nuances, its carefully honed physicality meshed with resonating emotion. Priceless visual comedy is provided by the three fascinating characters. It's the wildly imaginative use of spacial restriction, the word play and the collision of cultures, which is so captivating. An unmissable journey."

Adrienne Sichel

"Webber as the obese Afrikaner with the obligatory bonhomie has moments of profound delicacy as he bumps into his own feeli"
Diane de Beer, Tonight

"Strike, Bester and Webber are all consummate physical performers, these skills are displayed on Chen Nakar's inventive set. Coupé is both lighthearted and a substantial piece of theatre."
Chris Thurman, Sunday Independent

"I would strongly advise anyone who possesses a sense of wonder, and who believes in the magic of everyday situations and chance encounters to see this show. Strike plays an anxious French woman who barely utters a word of English throughout, but it doesn't matter-such is Strike's consummate ability to clown and mine her intentions. Director Sue Pam-Grant should be congratulated for her sharp vision in bringing Coupé to fruition."
Christina Kennedy Vibe, The Citizen

"Outstandingly embodied performances by Strike, Bester and Webber ensure that their characters' inability to understand one another goes deeper than mere verbal communication. Because so little is said, it is about misunderstanding as opposed to understanding. Sadness and humor vie for dominance in its performance."
Kate Stegeman

"The sound, composed by Philip Miller, is innocent yet nostalgic, as it crescendos and tapers, as a train travelling through the landscape will do.The characters are honed empathetically; ultimately, they are, as is Strike's wont, innocent in their sense of self revealing their values and their flaws with an endearing naiveté. Averting all the cés about life and trains, it will leave you with a grin on your face; something deeper in your heart."
Robyn Sassen, Mail and Guardian

THE TRAVELLERS


"This is one of the finest pieces of theatre I have seen. It breaks your heart with feather dusters, and will remind you of what makes human existence so puzzling and lo"
Karyn Maughan, Cape Argus, January 2006

"An intimate yet expensive triumph. Strike's florid emotionalism has left the most indelible impression once ag"
Peter Tromp, Cape Times, January 2006

"In its storytelling quest The Travellers flirts with vaudeville, puppetry and corporeal mime. The results? Entrancing entertainment with soul. The delicious delicacy of Strike's layered direction conjures with innocence and experience. Toni Morkel is an awesome act to match but both Buckland and Meskin more than hold their own, mastering the art of physical and emotional expression."
Adrienne Sichel, The Star, 21 July 2005

"Whatever category you slot this colourful burlesque into, try not to miss The Travellers. It's brilliant."
Gillian Mcainish, The Herald, 6 July 2005

"The Travellers has a nostalgic, timeless quality and appeals to a longing for fantasy. It is edgy, not inane, and touches taboos."
Dawn Kennedy, The Sunday Independent, 7 August 2005

"In its storytelling quest The Travellers flirts with vaudeville, puppetry and corporeal mime. The results? Entrancing entertainment with soul. The delicious delicacy of Strike's layered direction conjures with innocence and experience. Toni Morkel is an awesome act to match but both Buckland and Meskin more than hold their own, mastering the art of physical and emotional express"
Adrienne Sichel, The Star, 21 July 2005

"Whatever category you slot this colourful burlesque into, try not to miss The Travellers. It's brilli"
Gillian Mcainish, The Herald, 6 July 2005

"The Travellers has a nostalgic, timeless quality and appeals to a longing for fantasy. It is edgy, not inane, and touches tab" Dawn Kennedy, The Sunday Independent, 7 August 2005

"The Travellers is pynlik snaaks, vreemd en tog herkenbaar. Dit is vir almal n metaforiese reis wat deurlopend verras en betower n blink nuwe juweel deur die bekroonde regisseur Sylvaine Strike."
Schalk Schoombie, Die Beeld, 6 Julie 2005

"Beautiful visually, this tiny world treads a fine line between joy and sadness, innocence and guilt."
Michael Coghlan, Adelaide Festival Fringe Review, 24 February 2006

"The Travellers had a phenomenal run, playing at over 100% capacity, there is no question that it will certainly have legs, locally and internationally. It was the success story of the Grahamstown Fringe."
Christina Kennedy, The Citizen, 27 July 2005

"The small set serves to intensify the parts of the play that tug at your heartstrings - the moments when some small, seemingly meaningless human gesture is unexpectedly magnified to reflect ourselves. That's the power of Strike's magic."
Zingi Mfeka

FORTUNATELY


"Alternately hilarious and poignant, it's a safe bet that you'll leave the theatre with a lump in your throat. These two characters must be two of the most endearing to have graced the South African stage. Fortunately is a humbling lesson in how precious and rare the gift of true love"

Christina Kennedy, The Citizen

"The Charm of 'fortunately' lies in the simplicity of its storytelling. It's innovative work such as this which makes the theatre front bubble and roar!"
Kobus Burger, Beeld

"A breath of fresh air. It's a refreshing oasis of originality, the physical 'language' spoken and the story told crosses barriers of ethnicity, age, race and culture and is by turns hilarious and poignant, dropping little nuggets of hope like manna from the sky."
Christina Kennedy, The Citizen Spotlight

"It's very funny and will have you saying 'ahhh' a lot. The two performers clown their way through with aplomb, providing over an hour of laughter for the audience!"
Gayle Edmunds, The Citizen

"This is a highly entertaining theatre experience, which shows off these two versatile actors' talents splendidly."
Kobus Burger, Beeld Plus

THE TABLE

"You might look wrecked when you leave the theatre after this play; your heart will be sated. The Table is woven with enchantment, commitment to truth and generous collaboration... It reveals truths that will blast you out of your complacency and make you sit up straight."
Robyn Sassen, Jewish Report

"... this is no static sit-down affair: the action is as fluid as the tempers and emotions that flare up around the dinner table - which has its own extraordinary story to tell... as a darkly humorous snapshot of how internecine skeletons can be exposed and overcome, this play manages to fling the family silver onto the table with a satisfying clatter."
Christina Kennedy, Business Day

"Freely mixing humor with heartache, the play is a compelling slice of theatre with the six-strong cast immersing deeply into their character psyche. This is a family reunion that will resonate with audiences."
Peter Feldmann, Artslink

"There are plenty of warm embraces, a dreamy pace that references Chagall's floating elders and lovers."
Matthew Krouse, Mail & Guardian

"... this innovating and moving production is spellbinding. Evocative and circular weavings of sand, wood and memory unfold as a family gathers to commemorate the passing of their father."
Theresa Eldmann, Cue

"... by means of carefully controlled chaos, expressive and well-timed performances and innovative and clever props, each piece has the ability to move you to tears, make you laugh, shock you and ultimately give you some food for thought."
Clayton Swanepoel, The New Age

"The direction was superb and the interjections of pure physical expression, intertwined with the plot, made the performance something out of the ordinary and a visually compelling spectacle."
Caroline King, Grahamstown Now

"Anyone who has ever sat around a dining table with their family will enjoy the humor and identify with the emotions at play in The Table."
Cheska Liackman, ELLE magazine

"The table is a metaphor on which the play pivots to explore notions of the family and truth, and the encroachment of both immediate and distant history on the present... the play leads you along what you think is familiar racial territory - you are nodding and anticipating the usual racial signposts - before the director turns the plot and the momentum of the play along a radically different path. The upshot is an entertaining production that also explores the country's favorite topics - race and family, labour and history."
Percy Zvomuya, Mail & Guardian

"The Table presents you with a funny, yet exciting journey of a family's history... The story is funny and deeply moving. The use of physical expressions, and a good storyline results in a great experience for theatre-goers."
Patience Bambalele, Sowetan