THE RITUAL OF watching a film in a darkened auditorium, on plush seats as we munch popcorn and cold drink is something that has been endemic to our culture for decades. It’s a moment of escapism, in which you can see dreams come true and watch magic happen. It’s a place of safety in the face of the scariest bogeymen. For Gary Blignault (Pietie Beyers), a 29-year-old savant, it’s the universe itself, in Martyn Le Roux’s new Afrikaans-language radio play, Die Blikslim, which broadcast on Radio Sonder Grense this evening.
This is one of those plays which make you feel privileged to be in the audience of the theatre of the mind. Crafted with immense wisdom and sensitivity, it evokes the trajectory of time, but also potent details which feature everything from ducks to beautiful objects made of tin.
Without slipping off into didacticism or preaching, the piece tells of the difficulty one born with a condition such as Asperger’s carries, but also of the complicated burden that that person’s family becomes heir to. And it is here that we meet Santie (Cindy Swanepoel) who is busy with a masters degree in psychology. She finds herself sitting alongside Gary who knows his films down to the last credits and something new happens in both of their lives.
It’s a tale of bullying and rallying, and of making sense of who you are in the world as you make peace with your personalised bag of chaos. And while all the male characters, other than Gary, who are both present and absent in the script, don’t come off too well in the maturity stakes, it’s a play with a devastating twist, but a conclusion that brings suture.
Beyers lends an understanding of mental illness which is exuberant and crafted, strong and informed. There is humour and wildness in his interpretation of Gary, and in how Hollywood dialogue and fanfare is interspersed beautifully throughout the work, offering great empathy in Gary’s anger and confusion at a world that isn’t always like the movies.
The play is longer than the plays generally hosted in this slot, but in its construction and in the presentation of the narrative, every second matters and you will find yourself weeping at your wireless and holding on to every moment.
- Die Blikslim is written by Martyn Le Roux. Directed by Renske Jacobs, and featuring technical input by Bongiwe Thomas, Olebogeng Monana, it is performed by Pietie Beyers, Johny Klein, David Louw, Mari Molefe van Heerden, Rina Nienaber and Cindy Swanepoel. It was broadcast on RSG on October 24, will be rebroadcast at 1am on Monday, October 28, part of the radio station’s Deurnag programme, and is also available on podcast through the radio station’s website: rsg.co.za