BWW Review: Evocative DANGER IN THE DARK Sheds Light on Contemporary Issues Through Stellar Cast and Staging
A story of drugs and gangsterism and the lives and relationships affected by it, David Kramer's DANGER IN THE DARK travels between moments of elation, sincerity, shock and anguish in this intricate re-imagining. If a sold-out midweek standing ovation isn't enough to convince you to see the last performances of this production at the Baxter, then the faultless cast and crew should.
A reworking of Poison from the early 90s, DANGER IN THE DARK speaks to the past, present and future without subtleties or pretence. Under Kramer's direction and writing, we are drawn into the story of social worker Pamela who reunites with schoolmate Juanita. Juanita is in deep with an unhappy marriage to drug lord Michael, and Pamela takes it upon herself to guide her friend out of darkness. Peppered with supporting characters and love interests, a red and gold scarf is the breadcrumb used to trace the plotlines of this compelling albeit somber musical.
Alexis Petersen in the lead role of Pamela is a show stopper. While she didn't get to show off her dance skills, there is no doubt that this young performer must be a triple threat with her impeccable acting and singing skills showcased in DANGER IN THE DARK. I found her character arc the most captivating and her crystalline mezzo an excellent way to end the tumultuous production.
Loukmaan Adams plays villainous Michael very well. You can't help but despise his character, even when he shows a softer side to himself in his tenor solos. He has impeccable range and, opposite Rushney Ferguson as younger wife Juanita, he serves as a versatile catalyst to the play's action. Ferguson is also well-acted in her own right who contrasts and complements Petersen very well.
In various supporting roles, Elton Landrew brings a comedic element to the production, Eldon van der Merwe is charmingly romantic, and Edith Plaatjies has a stunning voice like no other. Another memorable mention is Chad Baai who - as only a second-year student at Waterfront Theater School - has made his mark in the theater community not only in SPRING AWAKENING earlier this year, but also as the endearing Shawn in this production. Along with majority of DANGER OF THE DARK's cast, he is one to watch.
It must be said that the cast of DANGER IN THE DARK is one of the most unified and invested I have seen this year. They are consistent and high-energy - which is a lot to say for the chorus when there is vigorous choreography throughout. Choreography by Shaun Oelf and Grant van Ster was a definite standout in this production and, coupled with Patrick Curtis' lighting design, scenes are dynamic and absorbing.
On top of this is layered Kramer and Taliep Petersen's collaboration. Kramer's writing presents an almost dramedy stream-of-consciousness through song, with Petersen's original compositions adding to this in memorable numbers that range from the amusing to the evocative. Brava to musical director Camilla Lombard for bringing out the best in the score; from clear choral diction to beautifully balanced two and three part harmonies.
The proof of DANGER IN THE DARK's success is in the reception it has received. The story, music and presentation have touched audiences since opening night, with patrons being overheard during the final week to simply having to be at the show for their second time.
Photo credit: Jesse Kramer
DANGER IN THE DARK will be performed at the Baxter until 9 November at 7.30pm with a matinee performance 2 November at 2pm. Tickets cost from R120 to R195. Booking is through Webtickets on 086 111 0005, online at www.webtickets.co.za or at Pick n Pay stores.