TAKE AN ALREADY spooky kind of atmosphere, sprinkle it with some werewolf detritus and the nuts and bolts of a conventional thriller, and you will find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat this evening, for the 90-minute long Bloedmaan, an Afrikaans-language radio drama on Radio Sonder Grense by Martyn le Roux.
Directed by Renske Jacobs, this is not just a narrative about stuff that goes bump in the night. Segued with the oddness of Sutherland, a small town in the Karoo, and veiled in the layers of superstition in this country, Bloedmaan takes the premises of Le Roux’s film Die Pelsloper and pushes them to heights of true horror and complexity.
All too often the notion of horror gets intertwined with a kind of Goth sexiness or too much spilled blood and guts, which strips the potential intonations of horror to thrills and chills. Le Roux doesn’t stoop in this direction and constructs three-dimensional people who are able to articulate complicated ghoulish heritage with a tragic sense of calmness.
Unlike Die Pelsloper, in both its iterations, Bloed Maan is completely reliant on the power of Le Roux’s pen and your mind, as they interface over the radio. In this way, the work is much scarier than it would otherwise have been.
Replete with several hairpin bends, reveals and horrifying realisations which will have your hair standing on edge, it’s a meshing together of police drama cliché and something far more unexplainable. Playing with a knowledge of folk tale, belief and hinged on the sense of maybe, it takes you from the lonely isolation of a small South African place where violent things happen to medieval France in the flick of an eyelid, shows you an understanding of lunar ebbs and flows and the wisdom of ancient murals.
Bloed Maan is a story rich with detail and thought that attests to the fine quality of Le Roux’s work, but holds its central narrative threads together with consistency and legibility. While the voice of Christine Voerendyk in the role of Spenser feels a little wooden as the work begins, you soon get an inkling as to why this is necessary and appropriate.
Hold onto your chair, this evening, but don’t step away from the wireless. Not even to check the status (and colour) of the moon.
- Bloed Maan (Blood Moon) is written by Martyn le Roux. Directed by Renske Jacobs, and featuring technical input by Bongi Thomas and Evert Snyman Jr, it is performed by Solomon Cupido, Johny Klein, Neil Sandilands, Francois Stemmet, Christine Voerendyk, Karen Wessels, and Robbie Wessels. It debuts on RSG on 1 October at 8pm, will be rebroadcast on May 7 at 1am during the radio station’s Deurnag programme and is also available on podcast.