AN ELDERLY WOMAN is found dead in her aviary and the police are summoned to investigate. Thus begins to unfurl a mystery that will keep you leaning in to your wireless until the very end. William Oosthuizen’s gently creepy Afrikaans-language radio play with a strong moral core, Die Voëlhok (the Aviary) broadcasts this Thursday evening on Radio Sonder Grense. It’s the type of yarn that makes radio drama the best form of entertainment.
Edith Visagie (Lida Botha) has been a wife for many years. She keeps her house spotlessly clean as she keeps the life she and her husband leads out of gossipy speculation. But she’s also a woman who has had big disappointments and deep sorrows, which she has secreted in her heart. It is the birds in her aviary that give her sanctuary.
Her death amongst the birds has the cops perplexed. Her husband, Bertus (Johan Botha) seems understandably morose, but there’s something that doesn’t quite tally. It’s only when the son Neil (Pieter van Zyl) who now lives in Canada comes for the funeral that things begin to unravel.
And unravel, they do, in ways that will take you to the brink of tears of empathy, of goosebumps about what may be out there that cannot be seen, and of perplexity at the closed-off-ness of an elderly man who has lived his life in disappointment.
Die Voëlhok is a delicately wrought tale about regrets, imprisonment and the passage of time. Beautifully crafted to fit the whole plot in just under an hour with precision, it’s an excellent reason to stay home on Thursday evening, but more than that, it’s a testament to how well Lida and Johan Botha collaborate, as they have done in a couple of other RSG dramas, recently.
- Die Voëlhok (the Aviary) is written by William Oosthuizen and directed by Eben Cruywagen. Featuring technical assistance by Cassie Lowers, it is performed by Johan Botha, Lida Botha, Crystal Roberts, André Samuels, Juanita Swanepoel, Pieter van Zyl and Morné Visser. It will be aired on RSG at 8 pm on Thursday, November 8 and again in the radio station’s all night programme, Deurnag, at 1 am on Monday November 12. In addition, it is available on podcast.