Cold turkey


TOO much, or too little? Leon van Nierop’s play is about the reality of internet addiction. Photograph courtesy

WHAT WOULD YOU do if the internet got switched off tomorrow and all the little bits and scraps of your multiple engagements with different platforms of social media, the games you play and the relationships you’ve formed electronically suddenly vanished? Just like that. Writer Leon van Nierop takes this type of issue under his wing in the  compelling Afrikaans-language radio drama Koelkop which broadcasts this Thursday evening on Radio Sonder Grense.

Chase (Christopher van der Westhuizen) is a teenaged boy, who bears a level-headed nickname from his parents. The only child of filmmaker Braam (Hans Strydom) and children’s book writer Vera (Janine Opperman), like any other millennial, he is completely invested in his connections to the ether. Until the unthinkable happens: a huge fire destroys everything this family owns – they escape with literally the clothes on their back.

They need to improvise before they can find their feet again, and the three of them encounter the humour and madness, the passionate anger and deep horrors of going cold turkey from the computer and all their other worldly goods. Dealing with a mouse that represents a whole life’s association, lasagne with an inner core of ice and the indignity but necessary of a long drop, on one level, this play is an essay about letting go, in ways that will chill you unexpectedly. It’s about love, too, and errors that are permissible. On another level, it’s about addiction in the direct sense. But on a third, it’s a carefully honed work that enables conversation between a millennial and his literary, creative parents. The cast is beautifully honed and the picture they cast of a family struggling to hold it together is convincing and relatable.

Achieved with a sense of engagement that is neither preachy nor obvious, the work is funny and sad, real and tight in its structure. It’s not predictable, but takes on the meaty blood-curdling issues that grownups might brush off with a smile, while they represent the whole universe if you’re 15. It’s another must-hear from the RSG studios: stay at home this Thursday night!

  • Koelkop (levelheaded) is written and directed by Leon van Nierop, and featuring technical input by Neria Mokwena and Evert Snyman, it is performed by Janine Opperman, Hans Strydom and Christopher van der Westhuizen, and broadcasts on RSG on November 14 at 8pm. It is rebroadcast on the station’s all night programme, Deurnag at 1am on Monday November 18 and is also available on podcast:

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