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BWW Review: Voluble and Vivid, THE OUTLAW MUCKRIDGE at Baxter Theatre Centre Set to Astound

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John Maytham, Louis Viljoen and Alan Committie lead a noteworthy return to theatre

BWW Review: Voluble and Vivid, THE OUTLAW MUCKRIDGE at Baxter Theatre Centre Set to Astound

Theatre has finally returned and The Baxter's THE OUTLAW MUCKRIDGE doesn't hold back. A trio of local talents has created a drama that tows the line between realism and imagination, making THE OUTLAW MUCKRIDGE an excellent example of the strength in pieces that can emerge from 2020.

Scriptwriter Louis Viljoen states that THE OUTLAW MUCKRIDGE was intended as "a story very much inspired by the lockdown, but not about the lockdown". John Maytham stars as Muckridge - a depressingly damaged man looking after an ill mother. Tormented by his parent, the life she has inflicted upon him, and his own existentialism, the aging Muckridge monologues on how his life could be different; especially different with the idea of being an avenging cowboy. Muckridge in appearance and speech is starkly opposed to the brave character he imagines himself as.

The range of emotions Maytham gives to the title character during this production is in a class of its own as one is drawn to sympathy, curiosity, aversion and amusement in the space of an hour. Maytham switches between the character of Muckridge and that of his mother in a Psycho-eque manner. He is so BWW Review: Voluble and Vivid, THE OUTLAW MUCKRIDGE at Baxter Theatre Centre Set to Astoundconvincing in doing this that it could be forgotten he is holding the stage on his own as a single character. For the world premiere of THE OUTLAW MUCKRIDGE, Maytham has created an inimitable performance.

Maytham's strength can no doubt also be attributed to the creative team behind him. I'll be the first to admit I'm becoming quite biased towards Alan Committie as I can find little fault in anything that he does - and he does so much! One of his last credits before lockdown was singing and dancing as Max Bialystock in THE PRODUCERS and somehow he steps into the role of director for THE OUTLAW MUCKRIDGE seamlessly. It is evident that as an actor and a director Committie understands space and how to use it very well.

Louis Viljoen has an extreme talent for verbose writing in an almost modern-Shakespearean way. This is not meant negatively, as he uses his script to draw you into the subtle drama he creates through words. THE OUTLAW MUCKRIDGE comes across as a stream of consciousness peppered with striking and peculiar ruminations. Niall Griffin's design adds to the overall production value and it must be said that the lighting design really stood out in this performance. It was simple yet effective while upping the "dystopian" feel of the setting.

BWW Review: Voluble and Vivid, THE OUTLAW MUCKRIDGE at Baxter Theatre Centre Set to Astound

I could almost be tempted to watch this play again. Not only is it an unforgettable welcome back to theatre, it's hard to digest all that is explored through the acting, direction and writing of this 60-minute piece. Whether speaking to the aftermath of isolation, the cost of loneliness, or the legacy of one's upbringing, THE OUTLAW MUCKRIDGE speaks.

Photo credit: Claude Barnardo


THE OUTLAW MUCKRIDGE runs at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio until 24 October 2020, at 7pm. Patrons are encouraged to arrive an hour earlier to avoid delays and to wear masks as required by COVID-19 regulations. Book at Webtickets on 086 111 0005 or online at www.webtickets.co.za. There is an age restriction of 18 years.


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From This Author Lindsay Kruger