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BWW Review: MEPHISTO by LAMTA Proves Exceptional Acting Skills of Students


LAMTA's production shines spotlight on talented students

BWW Review: MEPHISTO by LAMTA Proves Exceptional Acting Skills of Students

Flaunting their triple-theatre students' acting talents in satirical, 20th century MEPHISTO, the Luitingh Alexander Musical Theatre Academy (LAMTA) presented their 2021 acting production at Theatre on the Bay this past month.

Written by Klaus Mann and adapted by Ariane Mnouchkine, MEPHISTO spans across twenty-one scenes and tells the stories of Jewish and socialist actors who make up the members of the Pepper-Mill cabaret. From vivacious actresses to highly-strung writers, each character has a unique story to be told against the rise of Nazism in Germany in the early 1920s through to the 1930s.

My greatest compliment towards LAMTA'S MEPHISTO is that soon into the acting production, it was easy to forget the actors on stage were only students. Each actor played their character with confidence. Although some have a small way to go to becoming truly comfortable on stage, LAMTA's training is evidentially instrumental in developing young performers to be professional and impactful in their acting.

BWW Review: MEPHISTO by LAMTA Proves Exceptional Acting Skills of Students

It is hard to say who stood out most in this production as all had their own strengths. Special mention however should be given to Miguel de Sampaio, Simone Neethling, Ashley Scott and Allen Chambers who formed a powerhouse of a quartet that I would pay good money to see again on the stage together. Guest artist Matthew Dylan Roberts melted into his scene with these actors; and I think that speaks volumes to the prowess of this student production.BWW Review: MEPHISTO by LAMTA Proves Exceptional Acting Skills of Students

Another aspect of MEPHISTO to be commended is that of Christopher Weare's direction. Actors moved naturally within scenes and - even when the fourth wall was broken - overall the audience felt like they were watching scenes of life; rather than scenes being performed for the audience. This can also tie into the talent of the students, where the company's chemistry was truly palpable from the stage.

Niall Griffin's production design was perfect in every way, and the wardrobe can especially be noted as being memorable. Lighting was impactful used against the industrial set design, and the production worked by having a set that was more simplistic, but never boring.

BWW Review: MEPHISTO by LAMTA Proves Exceptional Acting Skills of Students As the first acting production from LAMTA I've had the privilege to watch, I personally was more drawn towards MEPHISTO because of the production value, rather than the script. While no doubt Mann's play is an important one that speaks volumes to the past and present, there was just something lacking in allowing the audience to form connections to the characters on stage through the writing and flow of scenes. This does not take away from the fact that LAMTA did an exceedingly noteworthy performance of the script and should be applauded on allowing the play's power to be brought forward by the direction and the acting. It has only left me wanting to see more of what acting productions LAMTA can produce!

LAMTA's shows are certainly becoming a highlight of my theatrical year, and MEPHISTO can join their 2021 dance production PHOTOGRAPH as a significant accomplishment. With the end-of-year showcase still to look forward to, the students of this academy are continuously establishing themselves as forces to be reckoned with in South African theatre.

Photo credit: Supplied

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