IF YOU GET a special thrill out of the character definitions and wiles of an Agatha Christie murder, you will absolutely love every trick and nuance in Anton Treurnich’s Afrikaans-language radio play this week. Stille Waters is a tale crafted out of the idiosyncrasies of small town personalities.
Like the palpable social textures in British comedy series of the ilk of Mapp and Lucia (featuring Miranda Richardson) and Doc Martin (featuring Martin Clunes), the work is an essay on the kind of hypocrisies that riddle small town existences. Toss a murder into the mix and you get a situation teeming with bravado and pointing fingers, but a revelatory one that exposes murderous desire and rationale in even the most sedate of the characters.
And as is the wont of any in situ fictional murder scenario, of course, the suspects are in a context where they’re isolated enough and containable enough for the finger pointing to work. But this is a South African narrative in its most authentic sense: it’s a church-based community suffering the ravages of drought. Arend (Charlton George) is a water diviner with San roots and ‘tracker’ credentials from the apartheid army, and he’s there to sing and dance in order to seduce and placate the rain gods so that they may deign to toss a bit of moisture in the town’s direction. The process is handled with a gentle directorial wisdom, and is coupled with thorny bits of nay-saying, as you can expect. But in its magic rituals, it uncovers fascinating secrets and dirt from the past.
Featuring an excellent cast who cohere credibly to paint a picture of the context with voice and characterisation alone, the work will enrich your evening, delightfully.
- Stille Waters is written by Anton Treurnich. Directed by Frieda van den Heever, and featuring technical input by Cassi Lowers, it is performed by Charlton George, Martelize Kolver, De Klerk Oelofse, June van Merch and Chris van Niekerk. It broadcasts on RSG on Thursday October 31 at 8pm, will be rebroadcast at 1am on Monday, November 4, part of the radio station’s Deurnag programme, and is also available on podcast through the radio station’s website: www.rsg.co.za