Since I relocated to Cape Town from Johannesburg just over a year ago, I’ve attended several theatre productions imported from Johannesburg, which have made up for the absence of theatre in my life in the Covid years.
This week it was the opening of Cruise, an intriguing, relentless and sometimes gruelling one-man show featuring actor Daniel Geddes.
Often a one-person show is as hard on the actor as it is on the audience but Daniel Geddes had a captive audience, most of whom identified with the subject matter. Based on a true story, Michael Spencer and his partner Dave were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 1984 and given four years to live. They decide to dispense with worldly possessions and to live life to the full until their time is up.
The story of AIDS is told by the actor playing both his character and all the others in the play but in a fluid way that is not jolting. The pace never let up and the audience never missed a beat.
From the start, Geddes grabbed attention as he elegantly darted around Wilhelm Disbergen’s abstract set, which is well-used throughout.
Written by British actor Jack Holden, it served as a reminder of an era when the sickness dubbed the gay disease or gay cancer spread among the gay community.
Executive Producer Colin Law explains his rationale for a trilogy of plays intended to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the arrival of HIV/AIDS on the African continent.
“We have just lived through another pandemic 40 years on and sadly Covid has eclipsed the awareness of AIDS and the prevention of it.”
While Cruise is probably not the aptest name for the show, it’s a code word that immediately conjures up queer culture and before I saw it I wondered whether such an ‘80s story would hold in the Covid era but Geddes’ riveting performance cannot be ignored.
Cruise is well-directed by Josh Lindberg with lighting design by Jane Gosnell and original music by John Patrick Elliott.
The play is roughly 90 minutes without an interval and will be at The District Six Homecoming Theatre (previously the Fugard) until 30 December. For more information call 021 466 7200.