EIGHT MONTHS AGO, you may have called a story with its heart in the cruel grip of an epidemic ‘apocalyptic’. Tomorrow evening, when you listen to the radio drama interpretation of CJ Langenhoven’s novella Mof en Sy Mense, you will recognise all the rawness of loss and the fear induced by a flu-ish sweat, as quite normal. It’s set at the end of the Spanish flu epidemic, in the 1920s in the Karoo.
And it is in this context, where you get to meet ‘Mof’ a puppy (played by Dean Balie) in a house of sick people whose voice never breaks across the trajectory of several years of Karoo farm ups and downs. Compacted into just over an hour, this sweet farm story of trials and losses, tribulations and brotherly love offers a vista of time and light insights into character types, including a wheelchair-bound young woman called Poppie (Karli Heine) who loves with a desperate selflessness that fits into an era 100 years ago.
However, when you read a little of the play’s synopsis, you may think it to be something like Jeanne Goosen’s fabulous little text ’n Paw-paw vir my Darling, which puts the narrative into the mouth of the dog, central to the tale. This is not quite what happens in this earnest work, even though Mof is very central to the love, money and connections forged here, and he gets the most charming of lines, playing into the rough and tumble, fluffy presence of a small dog with opinions. And as the work shifts from loss and hope, to loss and hope, you find yourself wishing there was more of Mof’s observations about the flaws and faux pas of his people and less of the broekie lace and mournfulness in this traditional-feeling yarn.
- Mof en Sy Mense (Mof and his people) is based on a novella by CJ Langenhoven and adapted for radio by André Kotzé. Directed by Joanie Combrink, and featuring technical input by Cassi Lowers, it is performed by Dean Balie, Susanne Beyers, Karli Heini, Carel Nel, Pierre Nelson, Wessel Pretorius and Charl van Heyningen. It broadcasts on RSG on 8 October 2020 at 8pm, will be broadcast again in Deurnag, the station’s all night programme, on Monday 8 June May 2020 at 1am and is available on podcast through the radio station’s website: www.rsg.co.za