Values from beyond the grave


A smiley for dinner, anyone? The sheep head eaters are among oom Josef’s pals in Die Testament.

WHEN YOU’RE BEQUEATHED a fortune in the estate of an elderly relative who you might not have known as well as you should have, or loved as much as you could have, there’s a price. This is the lesson in Rhona Peens’s Afrikaans-language play Die Testament (The Will) which broadcasts this week on Radio Sonder Grense. It’s a light hearted tale with a strong moral message and some hairpin bends that will keep you glued to the wireless, with a mixed expression on your face.

Old uncle Josef (Evert Snyman) was a wily bloke whose life took him on strange and difficult paths. The trajectory of his time in this world was dotted with terrible losses and great loves, but also with heart-felt connections to communities that lived near his farm, including his staff who knew all his secrets. He knows his nephew, niece-in-law and great niece better than they believe possible, and tests them to the max, from beyond the grave.

It’s a powerful, accessible tale: The family in question has very clear values and responds to the instructions of the will with predictable whining, whinging and alacrity. They do not like their comfort zones messed with and are rude and dishonest, as their late relative suspects they might be, under the circumstances. And in doing so, he takes them along a complicated route which tests their moral muscle, their curiosity and their understanding of the value of money in a narrative rich with character and the gritty real stuff that makes family interconnectedness so delightful.

  • Die Testament (The Will) is written by Rhona Peens. Directed by Evert Snyman, and featuring technical input by Karen Gravett and Frikkie Wallis, it is performed by Marina Coetzee, Eloise Cupido, Anton Engelen, Anrich Herbst, Helena Hugo, Henk Hugo, Evert Snyman and Denver Vraagom, and broadcasts on RSG on October 18 at 8pm. It is rebroadcast on the station’s all night programme, Deurnag at 1am on Monday October 22 and is also available on podcast.

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