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Written byKlara Robertson

“Flughafen”: a must see play at the Outlore Theatre

“Buckle up passengers. Prepare for turbulence” reads the headline for Alice Viskat’s debut play “Flughafen”, performing at The Outlore Theatre from the 15-19th of November. Prepare yourself for the unexpected, as five strangers stranded in a German airport withstand a storm- both literal and figurative. “Flughafen” critiques the interactions of ordinary people forced to deal with disaster.

It highlights the selfish actions of those immersed in the problems of their own lives by exploring how desperation and fear produce erratic behavior. The play explores themes of mental health and sexual abuse, but the fiasco is ultimately defined by an eerie undertone to a situation infused with humour.

“Buckle up passengers. Prepare for turbulence

All the characters are assumed to be archetypal: the finance bro, the sassy airport official, the innocent child caught in action, the headstrong woman, the uptight Brit. But we see their characters become everything we think they could never be. With each interaction comes a new dynamic, a new reveal. Each character has their secrets, and every secret can be manipulated by an underlying agenda. But at the heart of these twists and turns is good-ol’ comedy which will keep you amused and giggling throughout the disturbing undertones.

The subtle nuances which balance humour with thrill are what make this production what it is: a character-focused comedy that doesn’t rely on clichés, but which shows us something new and interesting. What makes this play worthwhile is its writing of the female protagonist, who voices her rage and grief at an experience of sexual abuse. To hear this perspective, written by a woman, spoken, and voiced by a woman is rare in media, which often stigmatizes or fetishes female rage, anxiety, insanity, zest, endurance, and empathy. Insight into a deeply personal retelling of trauma gives the audience the opportunity to see something real and normalizes expressions of struggling mental health. 

By providing an in-depth exploration of a character grappling with the complex and emotionally draining experience of an awful encounter, the audience gains insight into the complexity of dealing with an issue that deserves focus and can begin to understand what many people deal with on a daily basis. The cast is energetic and of five young actors playing the “Fluggies”: Melissa Pretorius, Josh ‘Yoshe’ Riley, Laura Kelly, Lee van der Merwe, Mihir Soni.

Observing a few rehearsals, I’ve seen the cast (like in the play itself), come together as five strangers with unexpected connection. The rehearsals centred around laughter and playfulness, but each member was completely committed to the success of the production, professional and excited about this project. Active in the rehearsal process, Alice Viskat guides her actors to capture the subtleties of the script she curated, continuously working, and reworking the piece so that the nuance of each performance is developed.

Alice directs a cast who clearly respects her, but also considers her a new friend and fellow creative. Knowing when to bring a serious nudge of focus to the generally fun energy, the combination of her spunky demeanor and professionalism birthed an entertaining, unnerving and overall brilliant piece. While this marks the opening of “Flughafen”, who knows where we will see it again.

With plans of performing in other theatres around the Cape, taking on festivals such as the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, and feelers of going to the Edinburgh Fringe, there’s no doubt that the production will evolve and grow into a well-known, sought after event. So now’s the time to catch the show, at the Outlore, this week.

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