Sunday, 25 November 2012

I Stand Corrected - review

Written by: Sophie Talbot (@sophietalbot_91)

Ovalhouse, London

It’s “because it’s bent” Mojisola Adebayo remarks tongue-in-cheek, referring to her struggle to steady a microphone stand. The audience laughs appreciatively at this nifty irony in the midst of a production responding to the prevalent ‘corrective’ hate rapes in South Africa and anti-gay marriage stances in Britain.

Charlotte (Adebayo) was born in South Africa and raised in Britain by her adoptive, white, missionary parents. She returns to South Africa to teach cricket and meets her fiancée, native Zodwa (Mamela Nyamza); but as she waits at the aisle in a South African church her wife-to-be doesn’t show at their wedding. Charlotte returns from filing a missing persons report and we embark on a portrayal of the prejudice views gay-marriage faces.

Charlotte’s exaggerated texting is sounded by African drum beats, ingeniously implying a connection between Britain and South Africa. Combined with the absurd characterisation of the South African police officer, voicing his opinion that gay-marriage is ‘unnatural’, appraised by Charlotte’s upfront delivery of her Anglican ‘white daddy’s’ spiel regarding homosexuality debasing the church, it is suggested that the anti-gay attitudes of Britain and South Africa are far more interchangeable than we may think. Charlotte sadly contemplates what has instigated hate crimes against gay women in South Africa and suggests that perhaps ‘phosphorus’ is the spark, referring to her father’s enlightenment of the element in the country. Here, Adebayo’s clever script writing infers that attitudes such as her Anglican father’s prompt the horrific hate crimes seen in South Africa; consequently, the production offers a fresh perspective which encourages Britain to re-examine the severity of anti-gay marriage views present at home.

The production delivers its response via physical theatre, dance, humour, and music which co-exist seamlessly to encapsulate an undying love which prevails over the discrimination of the characters’ basic human rights. There is a particularly beautiful scene where the ‘missing’ Zodwa sprays perfume - representing her scent - and we witness Charlotte desperately trying to grasp the essence of her fiancée. The result is a heart-breaking scene depicting two lovers torn apart by prejudice, trying to reach each other through a supernatural barrier. Their eventual embrace at the end of this sequence is passionate and we are moved not only by the passion of the lovers, but the artistic match made in heaven of collaborators Adebayo and Nyamza. Emotive aspects of the production are contrasted by Charlotte’s frank direct address through a microphone. The stand-up comedy atmosphere and ironic humour - such as a joke about the idea of ‘a queen marrying a queen’ in the Royal Family – effectively reinforces the hypocrisy surrounding freedom of speech and human rights.

The framing device, in which the audience are the wedding guests, and thus supporters of the characters’ union, gives us a personal investment and powerfully reminds us that we have the power to help those subjected to such heinous crimes. I Stand Corrected is compelling, moving, and affirmative of the need for change with regards to anti-gay marriage rights. A well-deserved standing ovation from the audience ensued.

This production runs until 8 December 2012
@Ovalhouse @StandICorrected 

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