Some pieces of theatre need to sit for a while in the back of my mind before I can write about them. They need to percolate, simmer in my subconscious, while I slowly come to terms with them. Dangled is such a play. Now showing at Cape Town Fringe Festival, it’s uncomfortable, it’s intense, it’s a punch in the face.
Did I enjoy it? Not in the way you’d enjoy a rip roaring musical, all bright costumes and over-the top chorus numbers. But Dangled had far more of an impact. Would I see it again? Yes. Would I suggest others see it? Yes.
Dealing with themes of sexual violence, abuse, insanity and the creative process, it’s 45 minutes of stark psychosexual theatre that has the audience hurling between hilarity and horror.
And Rob van Vuuren delivers one of his finest performances. A man on edge, inching closer to madness, reliving the past as hidden memories claw their way to the surface.
Louis Viljoen’s adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s Diary of A Madman, the play’s dialogue, almost Shakespearean, in tone and delivery, is sharp and witty. It sticks with you. Van Vuuren scoffing at his desk’s elevated position on “the spectrum of fat fuckedness” and later exclaiming “Yuckedy doodle fucksticks” – there are moments of guilty pleasure in this often harrowing piece.
Dangled doesn’t suddenly take a dark turn, it was dark from the start, it’s just a case of slowly letting the audience in on the horrific undercurrents.
Van Vuuren is captivating as a man losing touch with reality. He raves and spits, swears and gazes wistfully into memories.
Now, I’ve looked on, tickled, on more than one occasion as he’s thrust his crotch repeatedly into my husband’s face (Ahhh Twakkie, you gem). This, however, is a completely different animal. It’s raw, it’s ugly, it’s violent and fraught. And you cannot look away, you dare not.
It must be an incredibly draining role, physically and psychologically, and Van Vuuren truly deserved the standing ovation he got.
If you’re ready for something that pushes you to uncomfortable places, that digs in the dark recesses of the human condition, and is also astoundingly performed, then go see Dangled. It’s on at Cape Town Fringe from tonight until Saturday.