FEELING JADED BY all the sham, fake news and broken dreams that this world is dishing out to all of us right now? Well, there may be an antidote. Scholars and sociologists of the ilk of Rudolf Steiner, Joseph Campbell and others drew their threads of belief out of myths and stories and playwright Retief Scholtz is no different, as you will discover in this week’s Afrikaans-language radio drama, Die Prys van Glo-Stof (The Price of Fairy Dust), part of a double-bill initiative presented by RSG in partnership with ATKV to celebrate young theatre talent.
In Die Prys, you meet CJ, Lela and Tim who are out on a hike in the forests of Knysna and between densely packed trees, their own sense of fear of everything from the bogey man to spiders, not to mention the possibility of errant elephants, they find themselves completely lost. Their references to their school teacher give you an understanding of their age and context. But the fear is palpable, and tempers run high in the face of insecurity.
But like all good fairy tales, there is a spot of hope. It’s a tale you will listen to with the ears of frightened contemporary South Africans who believe there is someone out to hurt you or take from you at every turn. The work is, however, peppered with music redolent of 1990s TV series The X-Files and a spot of Mike Oldfield, which contributes beautifully to the spooky in the atmosphere. To say nothing of the sense of magic.
And then, they find a house, seemingly disused, as lost travellers have done, since the proverbial time of Hansel and Gretel. Thus opens a whole set of realities and values splayed out and spoken with a sage voice; the denouement of this tale is delicious in the hands of none other than Tobie Cronjé, who dollops out wisdom by the fistful as he fills a shirt larger than life.
In Drosters, the second half of the double-bill, we meet a group of youngsters who are on the cusp between high school and grown up life. It’s a relationship sutured with the sense of semi-grown-up-ness that smoking grass and bunking school can bring, spiced as it is with climate change awareness and the bravado inherent in the need to change the world. But it is also about tragedy.
Michelle (Greteli Fincham) has suffered enormous loss in a car accident. And all the complexities of dealing with someone weighed down with the heaviness of bereavement, in a tale that weaves around the present, like Kenneth Lonergan’s 2016 film Manchester by the Sea, Droster is a strong and compelling work with a fierce momentum which forces the young performers out of their comfort zones, causing them to leap from teenagers and into their characters, seamlessly. No longer restrained by the presence of her parents, Michelle experiences how the world of sex, money and independence conflate together overwhelmingly.
The work is honed until it shines, with an ending that will raise goosebumps and make you grateful you stayed home to listen to the radio this evening.
- Die Prys van Glo-Stof (The Price of ‘Fairy-Dust’) is written by Retief Scholtz. Directed by Leon van Nierop and featuring technical input by Neria Mokwena and Patrick Monana, it is performed by Tobie Cronjé and high school students Martian Barnard, Brendan Eloff, Minke Marais and Julian Robinson.
- Drosters (Absconders) is written by Herschelle Benjamin. Directed by Johan Rademan, and featuring technical input by Cassi Lowers and music by Piet Botha, it is performed by high school students, Angelo Bergh, Greteli Fincham, Francois van der Merwe, Adri Waterboer and Graeme Watson.
- Both plays debut as a double bill on RSG on Thursday October 17 at 8pm, which will be rebroadcast on October 28, part of the radio station’s Deurnag programme, at 1am and is also available on podcast: www.rsg.co.za