Danger in the Dark opened in the Baxter Theatre on Friday 11 October, and I’ve seen it not once, but twice. Yes, it’s that good.
Based on the Taliep Petersen / David Kramer play called Poison, this hard-hitting story features Pamela (Alexis Petersen), a social worker trying to make a difference in a community saturated with drugs and gangsterism. She’s encouraged by Mrs Joseph (Edith Plaatjies), the mother of Shawn (Chad Baai) as the latter gets caught up in the wrong things. There’s always place for romance and in this case Pamela’s love interest is the charming and likeable Chicco, played by Eldon van der Merwe.
At the heart of the chaos is the aptly-named Poison (Elton Landrew) who has as his main purpose to make money selling drugs and to take revenge on his boss, the druglord Michael (Loukmaan Adams). Michael’s wife is the beautiful singer Juanita (Rushney Ferguson) and her ex Lucky (Tashreeq de Villiers) is part of the drama.
What I took away
This stage production tackles issues like gangsterism, the impact of drugs, especially among the poor, and relationships – both abusive and sweet. Poison demonstrates the dangers of the grapevine and the ways in which one person’s manipulation can impact the fate of others. The story highlights the dangers of (too much) power and serves as a reminder of what parents on the Cape Flats and elsewhere have to grapple with every day. It brings across the message that it’s important for communities to stand together. It’s a timely play.
South Africa is blessed with an array of talent, many of whom were featured in this hit musical. I enjoyed the music (both new and old) and especially the vocals that were of the highest quality. The actors were believable and I felt their emotions – from Juanita’s pain to Pamela’s passion and Chicco’s loveable nature. The chorus was impressive and the band, too, was on point.
Dramatic changes between fast-paced or nerve-wracking, violent scenes on the flats and calm and romantic moments in the recording studio or on the dance floor kept the pace deliciously unpredictable. The set was beautiful with the flats at the centre, then transformed from the recording studio to the club to Juanita and Michael’s bedroom, etc. The background felt fresh, changing from (very recognisable) homes to patterns to powerful news headlines and more.
The message hits home and comes at the right time. I just hope the people who are impacted the most also get to see this important play and its message. If they want to.