“He turned out to be a raging lunatic. I fell in love with his brain - he has a very lovely brain - but the reality of our life together was chaotic.”
The piece is a true testament to how much Kahn has grown as a theatre maker. Even though she has always been able to convey sincerity in her openness when sharing intimate anecdotes - even fictional ones written by other people - this time the story is so much more powerful because it’s not only true, it is all her own; from her 160 painted panels to most of the words.
The rest of the words were co-written with Tertius Kapp and directed by Jane Taylor, who was Kahn’s professor at Wits for a time. Kahn was able to amass what she likes to call her “fantasy football team of collaborators” in the piece and it shows, as each aspect of the play is perfectly matched to her performance. The four windowed box was made by sculptor Michele Mathison; the subtle lighting design by David Themba Stewart; the intricate sound design by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder; and the costumes, complete with an astonishing flash of gold in the end, by fashion designer Ella Buter,
As much as one could happily watch countless more reiterations of Kahn and her magical box of story tricks, Bocca is the perfect ending to the trilogy. It starts where it all began and ends with an anecdote explaining how In Bocca Al Lupo is an Italian idiom, which roughly translates to “in the wolf’s mouth”, and is said amongst theatre and opera professionals to be a place of “good luck.” With a work this powerful, Kahn may not even need it.
“It was the hardest show to tame of the three. So you start with the show and you stay on it - hopefully you don’t fall off it during the duration of the performance - and then you tame it, you learn to ride it and then you learn to ride it well. This one took a long time to tame and now I feel like I can ride it. It’s good now and it’s solid, I can honestly say to people that they must come watch it now, it’s ok.”
Watch Jemma Kahn be more than ok in In Bocca Al Lupo in the newly opened section of the Market Theatre in Johannesburg until the 21st of May. Tickets available at webtickets.co.za