WHEN SOMETHING UNEXPECTED (and unexplained) happens to a stranger in your midst, everyone responds from within their own deep selves, and this week’s riveting Afrikaans-language play by Madelein Volschenk articulates this soundly. Cast against the backdrop of a remote B&B in contemporary South Africa, it bears the characteristics of an Agatha Christie mystery; characters are well developed and there’s a twist in its tail which will keep you unable to move from the radio, until the story’s very last developments reach closure.
The bringing together of diverse strangers in a guesthouse which promises to be a home away from home is always a complicated foray. Basically because everyone comes there for their own reasons, and with their own baggage but each is forced to share communal space and a sliver of their personal stories with the others, even if just for the sake of being polite.
The complexity of the vocation rests heavily on Mr and Mrs Kruger (Charl van Heyningen and Àmor Tredoux), as the circumstances happen in the wake of a violent incident involving robbers, which has left her seemingly brain-damaged.
But it is a guest at the establishment who we meet first. Hester (Martelize Kolver) is a woman whose been diddled by her husband. She has grown children, but also deep anger and she feels herself to be voiceless. She has come to this establishment to gather herself, and to write. As she explores her own inner voice, riddled as it is with romantic cliché, the circumstances surrounding her at the guesthouse enfold her and permeate her story.
Then there’s Carla (Cintaine Schutte), a London-based girl who speaks a deliciously broken Afrikaans; Mr Joubert (André Weideman) is a rough-edged chap with an eye for the ladies and a bedside manner that makes everyone uncomfortable; and the list of potential suspects also includes the guesthouse’s help, Manie (Dean Balie).
And then, there’s Letsie, the mystery in question. She’s blond, quietly spoken and sleeps a lot, and all of a sudden, she’s not there anymore, leaving an unslept-in bed, a cell phone and no return address. Where is she? What happened? Who did it? Everyone’s aghast with grisly questions, including you.
As the urgency of the search gathers momentum, everyone contributes their fears, experiences and energies to the unfolding narrative, and when the story’s denouement is revealed, you will take a step back and think of how we, as human beings, are but filters of each others’ trauma.
Soek is a delightful reason to stay at home this evening. It’s well structured and performed with lucidity, painting a highly accessible tale of hysteria, horror and expectations.
- Soek (Searching) is written by Madelein Volschenk. Directed by Anrich Herbst, and featuring technical input by Cassie Lowers, it is performed by Dean Balie, Martelize Kolver, Cintaine Schutte, Àmor Tredoux, Charl van Heyningen, André Weideman and broadcasts on Radio Sonder Grense (RSG) on October 25 at 8pm. It will be rebroadcast on the station’s all night programme, Deurnag on Monday 29 October at 1am, and is available on podcast: rsg.co.za