When unorthodoxy spices up dramatic tension in The Audition
When director, Stella (Tosin Adeyemi), murmured that she employs a bit of an unorthodox style of auditioning for roles in her play, no one knows it better than Lauren (Victoria Buseni), a budding actor, who has a past with a deep wound and is ready to step over the limits just to grab a role and fulfill her acting ambition. Stella is as hard a director as they come; she takes pride in her no-nonsense style. She breaks down actors just so she refixes them again, better equipped, for her roles. In fact, she wrings them inside out to get the best. It is the stock of her dramatic trade and Stella lives it to its finest limits.
It is The Audition by James Johnson, produced by B/Rated Productions and Park Theatre, a two-woman cast play, directed by Bimbo Olorunmola last Sunday at Freedom Park, Lagos.
Adeyemi and Buseni kept the small audience on the edge of their seats in an electrifying performance of no-holds bared dramatic tention that seemed unending in its unfoldment of multiple plots, sub-plots and more plots and unending twists. B/Rated Productions and Park Theatre deserve accolades for their choice of play. But even more deserving of praise are the duo of Adeyemi and Buseni, who stretch the theatrics to its elastic limits as they fleshed out an emotion-steaming performance that you wished would never end because of the sheer ingenuity of the plot and the duo’s incredible, interpretive performance.
A director, Stella (Adeyemi), advertises for an audition for a role in her coming play, which an aspiring actor, Lauren (Buseni), responds to. Lauren walks into Stella’s audition venue and into what turns out the drama of herself and the woman, who is to audition her. It’s like walking into a house of horror as Stella begins the brutal process of transforming rusty-eyed Lauren into something other than she is.
It’s a play of becoming, of chasing after one’s ambitions, of sacrificing and giving all it takes just to arrive at a dream. What can Lauren give so she becomes the actress she desires to be? Stella is the bitch with meanness as her middle name. She does not settle for half measures; she goes all out to squeeze water out of stone so she gets the person she wants for her role. Will Lauren pass her strident test?
The Audition becomes a psychological immersion that an actor needs so she could enter into another character, where he or she divests himself/herself of original self to become another so as to deliver flawlessly. Stella takes Lauren through the whole gamut of emotional experiences needed and even more. Yet she would not be satisfied and so Lauren is plunged deeper and deeper into emptying herself of the entire content of her being so she can transform into ‘Ruth Alaxanda,’ a possible perfect character-to-be in Stella’s scheme of things. But Stella had failed as a younger age, when she went for an audition and would rather be a director, who determines the fate of others.
Stella, through a combination of brutal steeliness, which she says is her unorthodox style, drills Lauren so hard she drives her to extremity of emotions. Lauren, too, responds in equal measures and aims to be like Stella. Stella kisses Lauren and she is startled by it, having never experienced a kiss with another woman before. To bring he best out of Lauren, Stella asks her to narrate a past emotional experience, which brings Lauren to the verge of nervous breakdown, as she recalls how she was raped at 8, her life in its abused stages that leave scares. Lauren stripes at the instance of Stella, and then a robbery scene, with Stella holding a gun to Lauren’s head. It didn’t seem like make-believe any more and Lauren is genuinely terrified. So, too, the audience for whom it was no longer a joke.
But Stella has the last laugh; Lauren passes her audition test, but just… There is sheer seduction, intelligence, emotional intelligence and high drama as ever it can get in a performance of sheer intensity. Adeyemi and Buseni comfortably inhabited the skin of their characters. It is the story of becoming; it is the story of ambition being made of a sterner stuff. The entire Nollywood would do well to see The Audition; it would do their performance aesthetics a world of good. In fact, it would be a shame if The Audition fails to hit Terra Kulture Arena, the only proper theatre in the country at the moment, for its top quality performance that should entertain a much bigger, appreciative audience.
Johnson’s The Audition, as intricately interpreted by Olurunmola and superbly performed by Adeyemi and Buseni, is the ultimate stage performance experience.