The Snow Goose

It would be difficult to find a more moving piece of theatre to immerse yourself in, than The Snow Goose, especially when it is performed on the day after the 70th anniversary of the D-Day evacuations. What a great honour it was to join Simon and Helen Cooper on the opening night of Kalk Bay Theatre Productions evocative retelling of Paul Gallico’s classic. This adaptation, featuring James Cairns (Three Little Pigs, Sie Weiss Alles; Dirt) and Taryn Bennett (Sie Weiss Alles, Kaput, Frogs) and directed by Jenine Collocott (Sunday Morning, Dirt) is on at Kalk Bay Theatre until 28 June ahead of a run at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

This perennial children’s favourite, The Snow Goose, has been masterfully retold by an outstanding cast of two actors and numerous masks. These caricatured masks enhanced the action and emotions instead of detracting, as I feared they would. This is no lightweight, “children’s play”, this is what theatre is supposed to do; take you somewhere astonishing, without seeming to. This show brings you action and comedy, a debate on war, deep emotional journeys and wrenches your heart too! I was completely transported to 1940’s Britain through the astonishing accents and evocative soundtrack.

The simplicity of the set and costumes is offset by beautiful lighting, stunning masks and multiple characters brought to life by Cairns and Bennett. They transformed themselves from grumpy old marsh bird hunters to a pompous recruitment officer to BBC newsreaders and back to a gossiping postmistress, seemingly effortlessly. Cairns is at his most convincing in this production, he is by far the best character actor I have seen on stage in South Africa. It was pleasing to see his range move way beyond South African comedy.

Having said that, the delicate yet seriously talented, Taryn Bennett, is more than a match for James Cairns. What a treat to watch someone so obviously a physical theatre practitioner and excellent character actor.

Taryn Bennett in The Snow Goose. Photo credit Suzy Bernstein

Taryn Bennett in The Snow Goose. Photo credit Suzy Bernstein

KBT’s production of The Snow Goose is almost flawless. It is set on the desolate Essex marshes, against the background of the miracle of the Dunkirk evacuations, where a young girl brings a wounded snow goose to a reclusive artist living in a lighthouse and the two become friends. They nurse the bird back to health and it revisits the lighthouse on its migratory flight every year. This bird brings the young girl, Fritha, and the recluse Mr Rhayader together in an unapologetically sentimental story about love and courage.

I urge you to make the short trip to Kalk Bay Theatre between 5-28 June. Doors open at 18h30, show starts at 20h00. Book a table for dinner on 079-361 8275. Tickets: R95 from www.kbt.co.za.

Debi Hawkins