CAUGHT BETWEEN THE social horror of embarrassing and disappointing her parents and the cruelty of destroying her unborn baby, Esther (Saskia Pocock) has just been elected head girl of her high school and her folks are proud of her handsome boyfriend and how her future looks so rosy. But she has a secret that will blow all of these ostensible petty successes to pieces. And there’s a two week window for her to decide what to do. The complexity of teenage pregnancy comes under the loupe of Helena Hugo’s sensitive Afrikaans-language radio play Nog net twee weke, which broadcasts this Thursday evening.
It’s an age-old theme and a story which doesn’t fail to provoke responses from various quarters. Tossed into this mix is privilege and nurturing. Esther didn’t commit this ‘sin’ because she was abandoned or poorly raised. She didn’t land in this situation because she was ignorant or coerced. Everything happened as the dictates of biology declare, and yet, the boy in question is forthright in reflecting on the new life as one which will shatter his dreams for a successful, promising future.
Will she do it? Will she tell? Can she hold out for the remaining two weeks of the window period when it is still safe to abort a foetus? The play is cast in the context of internal conversations among the parents who empathise with their sad daughter, who they understand to be sad because it’s what teenagers do. It’s about the horror and guilt of grief and the finality of a decision as harsh as this. You may think of stories of the ilk of Diablo Cody’s Juno of 2007, but this is an angst-ridden scenario which is guaranteed to get people in heated debate.
As a drama, it lacks a denouement, but contains a highly developed reflection of all the issues central to the problem: Where does life begin? When the little finger nails have developed? When the baby is a foot long? How does the young mother reconcile herself to this choice and who does she have to turn to? And above all, does she have the right to take the decision? The dinner conversation material of Nog net twee weke, particularly if you have teenagers in the house, is ripe with value.
- Nog net twee weke (Just two weeks more) is written and directed by Helena Hugo; featuring technical input by Neria Mokwena and Patrick Monana, it is performed by Susan Coetzer, Shemane Harris, Luan Jacobs, Saskia Pocock, Natanie van Heerden and Richard van der Westhuizen, and broadcasts on Radio Sonder Grense on November 15 at 8pm, part of the station’s Skatkis festival; it will be rebroadcast in the station’s all night programme, Deurnag, on Monday, November 19 at 1am, and is also available on podcast.