HORROR STORIES OF interfering in-laws, told with earnestness and wit are so well trodden that they’ve become a cliché all of their own and there are a range of memes on the internet which describe them, both with humour and bitterness. Indeed, it’s seldom that a young couple deeply immersed in a tightly structured community will be completely devoid of the interfering input of the older generation. They come with their preconceptions and broken dreams, their old wives’ tales and hurtful idioms, particularly when their child or grandchild’s future may be at stake. Under the loupe in this week’s Afrikaans-language radio drama Ouma op haar Besem, by Annika Swanepoel, the interfering elder takes the spotlight.
The hapless young couple is Marinda (Liandé Valentyn) and Jay-Z (Wilhelm van der Walt). She’s a scuba diving trainer, he’s a wannabe painter with the business interests of his late father on his shoulders and Greek heritage (and a holiday house in that country) in his heart. At every hinted smoulder of love between the two, it’s either his mother or her granny with a proverbial wooden spoon, meddling, shoving spanners into the works and doing other nasty things. There’s a bespoken girlfriend in Jay-Z’s life, but the connection albeit forged by his mum with fiduciary prospects in mind, is a dodgy one.
It’s a tale of domestic intrigue, which skitters into predictability as it hits its denouement and needs a happily ever after. In this regard, it’s the extreme youth of the couple and their lack of coyness around being lovers in the face of their elders that compromises their credibility. The work also lacks a strong corollary position, not enabling or allowing you to understand the position of the respective meddlers, or to fall in love with their defensiveness. As a radio theatre work to liven up a Thursday evening, it’s engaging but not the finest play of this season.
- Ouma op haar Besem (Grandmother on her broom) is written by Annika Swanepoel. Directed by Anrich Herbst, and featuring technical input by Cassie Lowers, it is performed by Karli Heine, Liandé Valentyn, Wilhelm van der Walt, June van Merch, Isadora Verwey and Mariechen Vosloo. It broadcasts on RSG on May 23 at 8pm, will be rebroadcast on May 27 at 1am in Radio Sonder Grense’s Deurnag programme, and is also available on podcast.