A giant moose terrorises a South African village. A fifteen-year-old girl falls victim to her father’s vices. An introverted policeman makes a new friend. A village is changed forever.
Plenty of other stuff happens too, and Lara Foot’s convoluted story wears on. It ducks and dives in and out of moments and characters, forming a haphazard collective of experiences that try their hardest to coherently knit together. Though there’s energy, love and conviction in this disjointed folktale, it tries to tell too many stories at once and doesn’t give enough attention to any of them.
Fortunately, symbolic staging choices give the production sophistication and clarity that the script lacks. A child’s assault is a group of men passing a football menacingly around her in a circle. A coming-of-age swaps a child-sized outfit pinned to the front of a dress for an adult one that actually fits. Giant, dried palm fronds are the moose’s antlers, worn by the actors as a display of the creature’s mythic scale.
The company is comprised of skilled storytellers who take on and shed characters like well-worn masks. From the edges of the stage, they grunt agreement and disapproval when not directly part of the action – this would be a great show for a theatre in the round so the audience would feel invited to similarly engage.
There should be a profound moral message in this tangled story, but one never emerges. Though the performances make this a fun show to watch, the blurry narratives interfere with the joy and horror that should starkly feature.
Karoo Moose runs through 28 August.
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