BWW Review: Lebogang Mogashoa's THE REAL DIRT Filled with Humanity and Compassion
There is an almost overwhelming sense of humanity in Lebogang Mogashoa's THE REAL DIRT, which is currently enjoying a week-long season at the Alexander Bar's cosy Upstairs Theatre. For sixty minutes or so, Mogashoa draws his audience closer and closer as he tells stories that strip away the bandages we all use to dress our deepest wounds. His storytelling becomes one of the most profound acts of compassion I have witnessed in a long time, onstage or off. It is proof that theatre can heal what many other things cannot.
THE REAL DIRT tells stories about childhood, the loss of innocence and the difficulties of speaking and living one's own truth. There are tales of parents and lovers, and what the loss of either can do to you. There are saucy accounts of kisses won and lost. There are celebrations of queerness that somehow still manage to acknowledge the painfulness of being othered. And Mogashoa's chronicle is ultimately a reflection on the power of community or, perhaps, connection in an age where our isolation from one another so often defines us.
Mogashoa's disarming presence is one of the greatest strengths of THE REAL DIRT. He is as likely to draw belly laughs as he is to drop a raw truth that really hits home. It is clear that a great deal of effort has gone into his collaboration with Hayleigh Evans, who has directed the show, to find precisely the right tone for the piece, and it pays off in spades.
Staged on a simple set of blocks and a chair, with chalk drawings that illustrate key points from the stories on the back wall, THE REAL DIRT is beautifully understated design-wise. It is as if all of us, actor and director and audience, simply arrive in a place and time that are defined only by our presence and what we share there.
It is difficult to recommend THE REAL DIRT highly enough, especially without giving away the juicy details of stories that simply have to be heard in person. It is a piece of theatre that gives meaning to the lives we live in this most frustrating of worlds and which helps us to connect with each other in the most instinctual ways. In finding himself, Mogashoa has enabled us all to find ourselves.
THE REAL DIRT runs until 1 April at 19:00. Tickets are available from the Alexander Bar website, costing R100 if booked and prepaid online or R120 if paid on collection at the bar. For telephone enquiries, call 021 300 1652. The Alexander Bar, Café and Theatre is situated at 76 Strand Street in the Cape Town city centre and can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.