Bryanston High School’s The Human Condition

Death at a birthday party. Hysterical monologues; wherein which time melts.

Dancing to Beyoncé’s ‘Single Ladies’ while wearing a batman shirt. Meta-theatrical

jokes were thrown. Mechanisms used to cope. Who said you could not fit the

essence of the human condition in under 20 minutes?




The Human Condition is set at Delilah’s birthday party. The seven partygoers all have complex relationship dynamics. It’s unclear whether they are all

actually friends, or if they just wanted to party. But, they have one thing in common: Miles.

He promptly dies, due to the substances he was abusing at the party. From the

moment Miles breathes his last breath, madness has ascended.


The rest of the play unravels as each character reveal their toxic relationship with

Miles and how he ruined their lies, through which they expose parts of

themselves. We get Leah, who tried to save Miles at the party, after her first day as a

paramedic and failed. Thomas, who was in a closeted relationship with Miles.

Phoebe was invited to the party by Miles after meeting online. Joan, who is trying her

best to stay sober in a group of substance abusers. Phoenix, who doesn’t see the

point in getting sober. And finally, Delilah, Miles’ sister, who is sick of being overshadowed

by his substance abuse addiction and his pervading darkness.





There was great attention to detail when it came to creating the illusion of a house

Party; The set design, the props, the sound and lighting, and the way the actors

occupied the stage even when they weren't speaking simulated a party perfectly - beer-pong in one side of the stage and presents on another.


The Human Condition is based on the internal reaction of each character, instead of a linear

narrative plot. The writers played with time as a way to bind the story together. While

characters performed their monologues, other’s stood still. Time would move quickly

when the play rewound or fast-forwarded and you are left unsure of where in time you

are, feeding into the play’s mania.


The performers delivered each monologue with a deep and emotional understanding. They

displayed grief, hatred, confusion in their bodies. The humour was snarky, dark and

witty. Characters broke the fourth wall to land one-liners. If Shakespeare, The

Ultimate Spider-man and Fleabag had a love child, it would be find a home in this brand of humour.


Most of this humour was delivered near the end. The ending was the best part. Miles finally gets his monologue. To perfectly summarise, I will quote someone behind me, who audibly muttered, “What the fuck?!”.


Although, the ending was astonishing and contained a lot of dark humour, it was calm

compared to the escalating madness of the other parts of the play. Miles does not

need nor want the audience to empathise with him. He releases us from the emotional

labour of having to listen to six other deep monologues before that, which felt like

pressing a cold water bottle to your sweating forehead after a marathon.


Overall, this play succeeded in doing what it was meant to do. The Human Condition is the type of play that would and should be studied. It encapsulates the trials and tribulations most people face while using classical theatre elements well.


 

written by Nokukhanya Sibanda

copyedited by Ashley Allard

photographs courtesy of FEDA and The Human Condition Ensemble