BWW Review: YOUR PERFECT LIFE from F Creations a True to Life Tale of Perceived Perfection
Returning from its award-winning premier at the National Arts Festival earlier this year, YOUR PERFECT LIFE graces Cape Town audiences with its realistic story of 30-something women meeting up at their high school reunion. With one a family to show off and the other a career, YOUR PERFECT LIFE confronts a perception of what we presume is perfection.
On first appearances this is the muted reunion of two casual classmates, but is revealed to be much deeper as leading ladies Karlien and Caitlyn go on a rollercoaster up and down memory lane; examining the choices that brought them where they are today at their 20 year school reunion. Loosely autobiographical written by the lead actors themselves, the story poses questions of how female success is measured, how outward appearances can be deceptive, and how eye-opening honesty can be.
Afrikaner mom of 3 Karlien (Erika Marais) makes an unforgettable entrance. Her down-to-earth, no nonsense approach to life is punctuated by excellent comedic timing. In contrast, Caitlyn (Faeron Wheeler) is a high-flying and highly strung marketing exec. Both characters are tragic in their own way, but by no means is YOUR PERFECT LIFE a tragedy. It's more charming and hopeful while also being thought provoking.
Marais and Wheeler have a great chemistry between them that is genuine to watch. Wheeler as the stiffer of the two stands in good contrast to Marais and - while their once-friendship might seem hard to believe at first - they grow together and there are moments of sincerity between the two that reveal a deeper bond the teenage girls once had. There is a wonderful authenticity to YOUR PERFECT LIFE that the all-women team behind this production has accomplished, and that is emphasized by Wheeler and Marais' acting.
The set is simple yet believable: a school bench on a patch of grass framed by greenery, a school reunion poster, and a welcoming table of name tags and sherry. Aided by realistic costumes and minimal props, I could imagine myself at my upcoming 10 year school reunion and could put my own acquaintances in the role of Karlien and Caitlyn. The natural flow of YOUR PERFECT LIFE not only lends it to minor word slip ups being forgivable, but it is also easy to see how the story grew from coffee catch-up conversations.
Winning a Standard Bank Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival this year, YOUR PERFECT LIFE is both confrontational and heartwarming at the same time. An exposé of "perfection", F Creations has brought authenticity to the forefront with this endearing slice-of-life.
Photo credit: F Creations