One of the Fringe Festival's best, "Sic" is a one-man tour de force from South Africa about an actor whose specialty is death scenes until his real-life death draws critical pans.
By JOSHUA TANZER
Sic McGraw, self-proclaimed "greatest die-er that ever lived," is doing what he's famous for. And in the perfect setting, too: the duel scene of "Hamlet" in which he plays all the parts, which means he gets to die, what, 50 or 60 times? Okay, maybe only four times, but each is more drawn-out and dramatic than the one before, full of gasping and gurgling and impassioned speeches.
Sic is celebrated throughout throughout the land (which sounds like Australia but it's never specified) for dying on stage, but when he suddenly learns he's dying for real, it's a different story. He has a growth in his gut with a multi-Greek-word name and it's blowing up like a balloon and it's inoperable. He can have a long, painful series of "histolextoscopies," but even that might not help.
That's the setup of "Sic," a smashing one-man show by South African actor Nick Boraine. It's only partly a play about death it's also an exploration of an actor's inner and outer worlds.|
The outer world consists not only of his public performances, in which he struggles to maintain his character while collapsing with more and more real agony to the floor, but also his celebrity persona, the sense in which his private suffering must be shared with the viewers at home. "The real question, of course, is: Does he die as well in real life as he does on stage?" a prying TV reporter says into the camera. "And if he doesn't, there are going to be a lot of angry people out there."
As Sic's disease advances, the tone shifts from Elizabethan dignity to modern surrealism. Sic dramatizes his balloon-like growth with an actual balloon, which gradually inflates from scene to scene and becomes almost another character in the show. (There's a priceless scene in which it takes the place of a well-known character from "Hamlet.") And his desperate self-medication with booze, drugs and quack cures is accompanied by hallucinations that gradually displace his real life.
"Sic" is a play with both big-picture intelligence and small-detail cleverness. Among the artful touches, let's note that "Hamlet," famous for its play-within-a-play, is the play within the play "Sic." That lets Boraine turn Shakespeare's most tragic scenes into comedy just by performing them more or less straight, without any blatant mugging.
Boraine has a charismatic presence on stage (rugged, handsome and blond, he probably would make a fine Hamlet, at that), and his performance here is skillful and energetic. "Sic" is a show that works on all levels, and it's undoubtedly one of the best few plays at the Fringe Festival.
|AUGUST 19, 2001|
OFFOFFOFF.COM THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK
Reader comments on Sic:
Post a comment on "Sic"