Review: Sophie Joans is hilarious and captivating in ÎLE

Award-winning show from Spark in the Dark hits Cape Town stages

By: Aug. 17, 2022
Review: Sophie Joans is hilarious and captivating in ÎLE
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I should start with a disclaimer that ÎLE is part of the Women's Month Festival that I am co-producing at The Drama Factory. However, I have had nothing to do with the creation of this play and have taken this opportunity to review it.

I'd heard a lot about ÎLE after its highly successful run at the National Arts Festival earlier this year. It won a Gold Standard Bank Ovation Award and audiences had raved about it. So, it's safe to say that my expectations were high, and the show did not disappoint.

Sophie Joans has brilliant comic timing and can build a real rapport with the audience, which is probably why she's been doing so well in the stand-up comedy circuit around Cape Town. What I really loved about ÎLE was that it felt like a bubbly, quirky mix of stand-up-style storytelling and physical theatre. I was never quite sure what to expect and what direction the story was going to go in next. Under the sharp direction of Rob van Vuuren, Joans pulls this off with grace and ease.

ÎLE is not a traditional play. It's more a series of vignettes about her relationship with her mother and how her journey to Mauritius at the age of 18 to visit her mother's family and her ancestral home shaped this relationship. The narrative twists and turns, almost like the actor is remembering different characters from her family and events from the past, and then going off on tangents before coming back to finish the story. It's somehow both beautifully rehearsed in terms of movement, mood and lighting, and still flows like a natural conversation.

My favourite part of the whole show has to be the description right at the beginning of how Mauritius came into being. Not that the play peaked at the beginning - not at all. I just felt that Joans and van Vuuren set the tone of the piece so brilliantly with the physical comedy.

ÎLE is a great watch - cheeky, irreverent, a little racy in places and from the heart.

Photo credit: Elijah-za Gengan

ÎLE has one more performance in the Women's Month Festival at The Drama Factory, in association with F Creations. This is on Saturday 20 August at 8:30pm. Tickets are R140 and can be bought at The production then moves to the Avalon Auditorium at the Homecoming Centre, 22-27 August. Tickets for that are R100 and available on Quicket.