Beauty in the broken & discarded

Cara Roberts giving a memorable performance in Michael Taylor-Broderick’s beguiling The King of Broken Things.

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Stage: The King of Broken Things – Seabrooke’s Theatre, Durban High School, Berea
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
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ONE of my biggest regrets driving away from last year’s Hilton Arts Festival at Hilton College was not being able to schedule seeing one of the four premiere performances there of The King of Broken Things, the latest stage work conceived and written by Durban lighting guru Michael Taylor-Broderick.
Many people I bumped into raved about the show, some rating it as their pick of the festival. Having heard all that and long been a fan of Michael’s lighting and his more recent creative writing for the stage, I was left very disappointed to have missed it.
What a surprise treat then, to suddenly find the new work sandwiched in, at late notice, for two Durban performances this week before it is staged at a festival in East London.
I attended the performance last nighyt and would strongly recommend any fan or student of theatre make a beeline to DHS’s cosy Seabrooke’s Theatre to catch the final show there at 7.30pm on Friday (April 26). It truly is a wow work!
Following his enchanting Jakob, starring Bryan Hiles, and his more recent, equally beguiling shorter piece, 1 Man 1 Light, The King of Broken Things must rate as the best to date from Taylor-Broderick, who besides his great talent also happens to be one of the most likeable and humble personalities on the theatre scene.
Cara Roberts in The King of Broken Things.
Running about 50 minutes without an interval, the play features a wonderful performance, by turns amusing and poignant, nuanced and energetic, from Cara Roberts.
She plays a young boy who runs from the audience on to a stage cluttered with crates, a table, a ladder, suspended bicycle wheels, hanging cardboard, paper on strings and many curious other odds and ends.
The lad arrives in a scruffy school uniform, clutching his ears, barely audible as he feverishly jabbers away, drowned by an amplified soundtrack of a mob of children making fun of him.
Then, when the din dims, he tells us about hating being made fun of, but being taught that sticks and stones may break his bones but words will never harm him.
He then, through careful direction, clever use of props, and an increasingly fascinating performance by Roberts, goes on to explain that while words may in fact carry weight – which he sets out to demonstrate physically – nothing broken cannot be fixed.
He draws us into his world, an untidy workshop that his ever-sad mother seldom visits anymore, where he strives to be inventive in making the ugly, broken or discarded beautiful and new.
He looks on the bright side, creating new things from old. Then his story bleeds from the fun and frivilous into one increasingly poignant and personal, where the rehabilitation of things broken and discarded gets to include people and hearts.
The ending is a surprise that is pure genius, pure magic.
The show, which Taylor-Broderick has realised with the help of some of the finest technical and theatrical minds in the country, is one of the best pieces of theatre I have seen in a while. Do yourself a big favour and see it!
Tickets cost R100 (R60 for patrons aged 15 and under) children). Book by calling 083 778 6090 or 083 778 0590. Or buy tickets at the venue on the night.
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PS: An initiative is underway by the local theatre and arts community to use the Seabrooke’s Theatre more often for local work. Various plays and events, as well as a refreshing of the venue, are on the cards. Watch this space!

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