The Fall at the Royal Court Theatre
The Fall, which received a Fringe First award after its run at the festival in Edinburgh, is not only an entertaining production but also a very necessary one, particularly for anyone who has never been involved in activism before. It can be hard to understand the contradictions and difficulties but also the necessity of such work otherwise and being invited to witness these usually intra-community discussions is thus a privilege and an eye-opener.
In the spirit of its subject matter, The Fall, which tells the story of the recent South African student protests, was written collaboratively by the original cast and based off their individual experiences. For this reason, though its handful of seven characters spend a lot of time performing monologues, they are nevertheless fully realised and have a convincing and charming dynamic. This serves to make the conflicts and divisions between them more poignant and the moments in which they are able to come together immensely satisfying. While the audience is never shown the fissures between them fully healed, there remains an enduring sense of hopefulness that these young people, and others like them, might be able to create a new South African culture, one that does away with colonial Eurocentric ideals while respecting the diversity of lived African experiences.
Excellent use is made of the only props, a handful of tables, and the end result is an immersive performance with an infective passion. Monologues and group conversations are interspersed with a series of call-and-response struggle songs, which have historically been an integral part of South African resistance movements, and that are beautifully realised by this group of very competent singers.
While many of the themes raised in this performance might spark some recognition in Western student activists, such as the pressure of mounting student debt and the alienation experienced by students of colour in the face of a majority-white curriculum, the most charming quality of The Fall is that it unmistakably South African. This production tells a story embedded in South African history and experiences in a way that is unflinchingly honest and unapologetically proud.
Photo: Oscar O’Ryan
The Fall is at the Royal Court Theatre from 26th September until 14th October 2017. For further information or to book visit the Royal Court website here.