My ticket out of here

MY new buddy. Photograph courtesy

WHAT DO YOU do when you are itchy for adventure and the boring farm in which you have been raised is simply that: boring, in its politics, its values, its chances for love and its ordinariness? If you’re Gisela (Christine Voorendyk), you simply look out the window. This is the premise that sets Johann Smith’s delightful Afrikaans-language radio drama on Radio Sonder Grense Boetie ontmoet ‘n Alien on its narrative feet this Thursday.

And then, there is Allen, the alien (Pietie Beyers) in question. Handled with writerly astuteness, gentleness and a bit of cynicism, this otherworldly tale is about confusing and forbidden love, dreams and the courage to be. It tosses up all the alien platitudes you can imagine, puts a heart and some nuance in its centre and yields something that is a lot more than a silly cliché of small green men from Mars coming to take over our world. Offering a frisson of magic that evokes the final moments of the Rocky Horror Show and a slice of the ‘wow-ness’ in Nora Ephron’s 1996 film Michael, the piece gives the alien the street cred of the contemporary world, and wisdom that is more far flung.

Also featuring Luan Jacobs as the family’s son – and Gisela’s brother – Duan, who is a boy with dreams and fantasies so big he hasn’t the bravery to articulate them, the work is about the ostensible raw horror in attempting to be yourself in a context where society is trying to bludgeon your specialness into ordinariness.

This is a feisty story about how we relate to Others, but one which also lends the quiverings of teenage dreams the credibility they warrant. Beautiful messages are ensconced in the genteelness of this extra planetary bloke who can see a lot more than just what the farm family he has found, are thinking. It’s a delightful and beautifully professional piece of work which stands its own and averts the pall of platitudes with dignity and crispness, keeping the entertainment factor well in tune.

  • Boetie Ontmoet ‘n Alien is written by Johann Smith. Directed by Leon von Nierop, and featuring technical input by Bongi Thomas and Evert Snyman Jr, it is performed by Izél Bezuidenhout, Pietie Beyers, Luan Jacobs, Anton Schmidt, Adrian Steyn and Christine Voorendyk. It broadcasts on RSG on 26 November at 8pm, will be rebroadcast on 30 November at 1am in Radio Sonder Grense’s Deurnag programme, and is also available on podcast.

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