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Painting a Wall

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
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"Technical difficulties" delaying the start of a show by 45 minutes never bode well. Sadly, in this case, it pretty much went downhill from there. The advertised running time of 60 minutes then expanded tediously to 75 by ponderous direction which stopped what little drama there was dead in its tracks far too often.

Painting a Wall is set in Cape Town in 1974. Three men and a boy are tasked with painting a wall. They have one hour in which to accomplish this if they are to be paid. Only they find, when they open the paint cans, they have been given green paint, when they have been told to paint the wall white. They paint the wall anyway. Writer David Lan thus trowels on some heavy-handed allegory on the theme of being the "wrong" colour but succeeding anyway, with a few eloquent passages about the importance of owning language and names, and the pain of loss. But Titas Halder's direction is so leisurely and lacking in pace, that any meaning is soon lost in a sea of boredom.

The men paint the wall, working on their own sections and with their own styles of working. They paint. Occasionally they chat. They paint some more. There are a couple of moments of drama when an argument erupts into a brief surge of violence, and when Henry is so overcome by the loss of his daughter that he tries to kill himself by drinking the paint. Other than that, the audience watches them paint the wall. Very slowly. After thirty minutes, there was a strong temptation to run onto the stage, grab a brush and finish the job so that everyone could go home.

The acting is passable, the set effective - just a simple wall. But after 75 minutes, it really does feel just like watching paint dry.

- Carole Gordon


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