PROFOUND GRIEF IS a curious cipher of very real emotions which reach much deeper than maybe you’d like. It’s a tongue loosener, a memory jolter, a redefiner. In Easter Island, a beautifully crafted English-language radio play by Anton Krueger, you get to meet a father and a son who are mourning the loss of Celestine, his wife, his mother. They’re in the sauna with some weed, a little beer, each other and their memories.
But more than a maudlin tale of sadness it’s a revealing yarn about the generational gap between Baby Boomers and Millennials and the disparate values articulated by each. It’s about the unexplained mysteries of Easter Island in the south-eastern Pacific Ocean, as it is about free love, sloppy responsibilities and secrets on the other end of the phone.
Like Retief Scholtz’s potent Afrikaans stage- and radio play Dop, which offers unexpected depths to the characters and revelations which make you understand them differently, Easter Island strips both characters of emotional defences, but leaves neither without their own edges and attitudes. Evoking the flawed professor in Lewis Gilbert’s 1983 film Educating Rita, it’s about archaeology and son-father bonding with a twist in its conclusion that you might not see coming, but one that will warm and spice your understanding of who you may be in the world, and how your parent can read you.
Primarily, the work, played with a developed sense of history and authenticity by David Butler as the father, Lothlorien opposite Julian Kruger as his adult son, Zebulon, who prefers to call himself Neil, is an essay on the ferocity of loss and the fleeting quality of life itself. Truths and mishaps, the bruises and breakages that makes the father who he is, and the son who he is, are articulated with harsh gentleness, leaving the most potent denouement to the very last.
It’s a deeply touching work, but one not without levity and a strong sense of how things are.
- Easter Island is written by Anton Krueger. Directed by Posy Keogh, and featuring technical input by Bongi Thomas and Patrick Monana, it is produced by Julia-Ann Malone assisted by Niquita Joseph and performed by David Butler, Julian Kruger and Theo Landey and will be broadcast in English on Sunday, June 3 at 8pm on SAFM, 104-107FM.