Neil Coppen

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Abnormal Loads Press Clippings 2011

July18

“Abnormal Loads is a profound and complex piece of theatre.”

Margaret Von Klemperer, The Witness

“Ground breaking”

 Gayle Edmunds, City Press.

“Another Standard Bank Young Artist, Neil Coppen’s play Abnormal Loads not only highlights the non-intrinsic value of the arts in articulating the history of our country through the divergent viewpoints of those who experienced it, but is a showcase of the commercial potential of the arts. It is clear that this 30-year-old playwright will draw in the audiences both locally and abroad for many years to come.”

Maya Fisher French, Mail & Guardian Online

“Abnormal Loads is a structural triumph in a medium that is often infested by creative repetition. Coppen’s play tackles social prejudice and race relations without being bogged down by intellectual utopia. The confident and intelligent use of space and lighting is almost like seeing a film without compromising the intimacy of the stage. Abnormal loads does equally well as source material for a master class on creative complexity or a conversation starter on a blind date.”

Sihle Mthembu, Mind-Map SA

“One of the most astonishing productions at this year’s Grahamstown Festival. An insightful and nuanced drama set in a small battlefield town steeped in anecdotal history, memories and oral tradition, nestled in the shadow of a mountain.”

Illa Thompson, The Mercury

“Breathtaking.”

The Crystal Calligrapher

“I loved Young artist Award Winner Neil Coppen’s Abnormal loads. I loved it for its unabashed theatricality, its sweeping presentation and most of all for its whacky slices of comedy and farce which turned every melodramatic and sentimental moments on its head. Coppen uses light and shadow, a beautifully arranged stage and mesmerising music to have his characters smoothly morphing from one entity into another. A line of mourning white women becomes a line of housemaids, a troop of tourists turns into soldiers without missing a beat. Yet it remains Coppen’s sense of the absurd, of subtle comedy that captures the attention by masking the deep human tragedies that lie beneath the surface of the story.”

Ina Randall, The Weekend Post

“Captivating and heart-rending theatrical mastery.”

Estelle Sinkins, The Witness

“All that research, archiving and following up on fascinating sources of information has resulted in an extraordinary production that places Neil Coppen fairly and squarely as a major force to be reckoned with in South African theatre.”

Caroline Smart, artSMart

Neil Coppen’s accomplished dramatic comedy Abnormal Loads is a must-see. An amalgamation of ghost story, love drama, historical epic and dark comedy, the events present and past unfold seamlessly.

Niren Tolsi, The Mail & Guardian

“This heartbreaking story is about race and family relations, the problems which surround the retelling of history and betrayal. Coppen is an outstanding talent and we wait in suspense for the next masterpiece he brings on stage.”

Emma Kotze, LitNet

“Innovative and intriguing is the best way to describe Young Artist award winner Neil Coppen’s witty and observant work which has as its fundamental theme the manner in which our current state is heavily influenced by the things, people and events that have gone before—even when talking about a time span of 200 years. Romance, heroics, prejudice, humour, tragedy and fallibility are all thrown into the melting pot to produce a rich theatrical broth.”

 Brett Adkins, The Herald

“Abnormal Loads is brave and interesting evidence of this award-winners worth.”

 Theresa Edlmann, Cue

“In this production there is no caricature, just real warm-blooded South Africans. Movement, sound, multimedia, music and shadow-play combine seamlessly with the actors on stage demonstrating just how beautiful history can be when placed in the right hands.”

Mariana Malan, Beeld.

“The strength of Coppen’s production lies in its brilliant writing, passionate acting and great set design. With history and culture posing the risk of being mis-understood in any production, Coppen has ensured the weightiness of issues around black and white (Zulu, Anglo and Boer) is balanced by a cleverly written script – laced with witty humour – that invites the viewer into the depth of the characters and humanness behind each of their stories. The storyline is an honest and transparent reflection of South African cultures and stories, in a manner that both enlightens and entertains. A resounding success.”

Latoya Newman, The Tonight

“It would be understandable for prospective audiences to think they are coming to some kind of dramatic historical epic more grounded in battlefield academia than theatre. However, they would be way off the mark. Abnormal Loads is extremely funny with delightfully refreshing humour and some clever comedy lines. There is dramatic input aplenty as well as some beautifully handled scenes of much sensitivity.”

Caroline Smart, artSMart

“The country’s other centres had some exceptional works on offer — Durbanite Neil Coppen’s Abnormal Loads, for example, showed exactly why this visionary young talent was awarded the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Drama.”

Christina Kennedy, BuisnessDay

“Durban’s theatre poster boy, Neil Coppen, one of this year’s Standard Bank Young Artists of the Year, presented a beautifully hewn work. Coppen has shaped a narrative which highlights how we are bogged down by own histories, ever-reluctant to shed the loads that disable our mobility and shackles our ability to change our own narratives. Actors Mothusi Magano (Tsotsi) and Jenna Dunster (Isidingo) shine, along with a resolute performance by Allison Cassels and other local Durban actors.”

Sharlene Versfeld, Artslink

“Mothusi Magano’s performance as Vincent Bashford Liversage is remarkable. He brings a delightful sense of understatement and wonderful comic timing to the dramatic threads of lineage and history he embodies.”

Theresa Edlmann, Cue

In Abnormal Loads director and playwright Neil Coppen warned of the consequences of regurgitating the past, which allows it to permeate and overshadow the present, thus pre –empting a situation in which it could be replayed. Coppen made his point through a tragicomedy centred on a young coloured man brought up in a white family who boast of their colonial history-he eventually finds himself trapped in it and becomes subject to its consequences, though it is not of his own making. Coppen didn’t simply juxtapose the past and present, he allowed history to run parallel to the present, eventually allowing the two to intersect, at its climax, in such a way that they become indistinguishable from each other.”

 Mary Corrigall, Sunday Independent

“With the creation of Abnormal Loads Coppen has gone on to new heights to showcase his ability. There is no doubt his name will resonate in theatre corridors, greenrooms and management offices as one of the strongest artistic voices at this year’s festival. For far too long, the theatre sector in South Africa has been dominated by Johannesburg and Cape Town. Coppen steals the spotlight and helps South African theatre managements to look to KZN for other such similar artistic geniuses who may be working there.

 Ismail Mahomed, National Arts Festival director

posted under Review, theatre

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