Monday, May 11, 2015

The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek @ The Signature Theatre

Despite the title of this play, The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek is so much more than just rocks. The story is based around a farm worker/ artist, Nukain. He is at the end of his life and Bokkie accompanies him while Nukain tries to find inspiration for his last flower. Throughout the first act we see these two different generation bond over songs, life lessons, and personal stories. Late in the first act we are introduced to Elmarie, the landowner, who despite her pleasant stories about Nukain, is not a fan of the newest flower and asks them to wash it away.

The chemistry between Bokkie (Caleb McLaighlin) and Nukain (Leon Addison Brown) is effortless. Even when the actors were sitting in silence you could see how connected they were. One moment that was breathtaking between both actors was when Nukain taught Bokkie an old traditional song. You felt the joy Nukain had passing down this tradition, and saw how excited and happy Bokkie was learning this new song.

Caleb McLaighlin, despite being only thirteen, was enjoyable to watch. I found myself watching him when he didn’t even have lines. He seemed so at peace being on stage, playing in the dirt, and he takes you on a roller coaster of emotions. One minute we are laughing with him, and the next minute we are crying with him because his anger towards Elmarie.

Leon Addison Brown does a fantastic job portraying Nukain. He takes us on an enduring ride filled with little gems that he has learned throughout his life. One that stood out was when he talks about all the walking he does, and how you must tie your shoes around your neck, let your feet get tired, not your shoes. Then Leon takes our emotions and throws them out the window when he paints his entire life story on the rock and says, “Now you can finally see me!”

Act two takes place 22 years later. We see a young man named Jonathan, who we learn is Bokkie, and he has returned to restore Nukain’s painting. We also see Elmarie who almost doesn’t recognize him and almost killed him! We see the struggles both face in 2003 in South Africa.

Sahr Ngaujah who portrays Jonathon did an amazing job capturing the youth we saw in Bokkie, and seeing the man he has become. The attention to detail is unchaining, from the way he sat to the way he held the paintbrush, it was as if we saw one actor grow up within 90 minutes.

Bianca Amatato who played Elmarie took us on quite an adventure. We see her transform from a woman with no worries and power, to “a frighten white woman.” Her performance was so realistic and not forced at all. Her subtle movements, and reactions to Jonathon were perfection. By the end of the play we see how the violence in South Africa affects everyone not just one race.

This production was a powerful peace of theatre that explores all aspects of race, life, age, and so much more. Nothing about this production is forced or makes you sway to feel a certain way. I left the theatre crying and smiling at the same time. This show has quickly become one of my favorites!

Review By: Briana Burnside
Photos By: Joan Marcus

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