By Arno Cornelissen
It’s late, and cold out, but Sophie Joans manages to make us all a little bit warmer with her colourful solo performance.
Île, written and performed by Joans and directed by Rob van Vuuren, is riddled with metaphors about love and passion, hate and fury, shame and pride (among other things). Set in the island of Mauritius, It’s a quest for identity in a tumultuous world.
The power of the performance is in its simplicity. Colour is tactfully used in Île, adding to Sophie’s complex emotions and the audience’s experience. The sound is crucial, too – carrying the performer wherever she needs to go with her voice and body.
Joans’ narrative and script are near genius, and the creases have been smoothed out from more than forty performances. She balances the script beautifully with her high-energy physical performance to enhance the storytelling and clearly convey the messages embedded in the play.
Throughout the performance, only two wooden boxes are used as props. The minimalist versatility seems endless. Along with the lights, Joans manipconveys complex emotion through minute changes to her facial features.
Serious themes are quickly and deeply explored by intense, shadowy and colourful scenes. The audience’s laughter is genuine when she breaks out of these scenes with shameless personal humour. It is both entertaining and endearing. Île is exceptional. Joans is a brilliant storyteller, a real performer – honest and funny – a world builder on the stage.