Review: Heartbreak and haunting music from VINCENT – HIS QUEST TO LOVE AND BE LOVED

An award-winning multimedia cabaret from Wela Kapela Productions

By: Feb. 28, 2023
Review: Heartbreak and haunting music from VINCENT – HIS QUEST TO LOVE AND BE LOVED
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VINCENT - HIS QUEST TO LOVE AND BE LOVED is the latest offering from the Wela Kapela team of Daniel Anderson and Germaine Gamiet, written and directed by Amanda Bothma.

I'll start off by saying wow! I had goosebumps from the very beginning, and all the way through.

Vincent van Gogh is one of my favourite painters. I'm not sure what it is about his work - there is an explosion of emotion in every piece that I've seen - and yet there was such a deep sadness in his life. This is largely why I was so excited to seen VINCENT - HIS QUEST TO LOVE AND BE LOVED when I first saw it advertised last year. It took me a while to get there, but it was well worth the wait.

The play starts with the auction of The Portrait of Doctor Gachet and how it sold for 75 million dollars 100 years after van Gogh's death. Actor Daniel Anderson then tells the audience some shocking facts about Vincent's birth, life and death - many of which the audience reacted to quite strongly. From here, Anderson switches between narrator and the character of van Gogh, who speaks aloud as he writes letters to his brother Theo, as the play weaves the story of the painter's life.

The entire piece is beautifully accompanied by Germaine Gamiet on the piano. The live music punctuating and accentuating the exposition, allowing the story to flow from one song to the next, is perfect. VINCENT - HIS QUEST TO LOVE AND BE LOVED would not work without Gamiet's inclusion - he is the musical glue while Anderson provides the story, and the two work seamlessly together. It's wonderful to watch them as they are obviously so comfortable and confident with what the other is doing. I also have to applaud Gamiet for the feat of playing the piano almost non-stop for over an hour with nowhere to hide or break from the audience.

I loved the choice of songs - some expected and some surprising. Anderson has incredible voice control and he also knows how to sing in character, which is not always easy when you're reimagining a famous song like Queen's SOMEBODY TO LOVE. Of course, the show includes the heart-breaking VINCENT by Don McLean - yes, I cried a little. Another inclusion that I loved was BEING ALIVE from the musical COMPANY - an absolute favourite song of mine and Anderson's rendition was gorgeous.

The multimedia aspect of this production comes in the form of a three-sided backdrop with projections of van Gogh's paintings. It's not 100% necessary in my opinion - the two performers sell the story completely. However, it is nice to see to see the paintings as they're mentioned or the time of their creation is covered in the play. The projections do add another layer of richness to the piece.

VINCENT - HIS QUEST TO LOVE AND BE LOVED doesn't have any dates set for performances in South Africa as yet, but I've been assured that it will be touring again. Keep an eye out on the Wela Kapela social media profiles - Facebook and Instagram - for updates on when you can catch the production - it's definitely a must-see!

Photo credit: supplied



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