THERE IS A new story boiling under the pen of Afrikaans playwright Martyn le Roux, and it seems like it will be something which will get you bingeing in a radio format. Die Soutwaterheks is a series le Roux has written and worked into the magical medium of radio. Recorded and released independently online, in both MP3 and MP4 formats, it is accessible through various links, and breaks moulds of what storytelling can be in several ways.
In episode 1, you get to meet the primary characters and to understand the heaviness of loss and guilt as well as the fathomlessness of the sea. It evokes Hendie Grobbelaar’s Johanna se Elvis, a play recently broadcast on RSG, and offers you clues as to how the work will unfold. Rather than focused on narrative, however, this episode paints the picture of a coastal village in South Africa, where fisherman ply their trade. It’s a place which has weathered great loss, and continues to be a repository for regret.
Hans (Deon Botha) is a curmudgeonly chap who is fondly regarded in the community. He’s nursing a deep grudge towards the universe and its hairpin bends, something which his friends and his barman respect with a jagged kind of sacredness. It’s the kind of rough and tumble sarcasm and love which you might remember from Chris Foggin’s recent film Fisherman’s Friends, which surrounds true comradeship with craggy edges.
Episode one is drawn in tight lines. It doesn’t embrace a conventional cliff hanger, but immediately warms you to these characters. The cipher of warning as to what lies beneath is articulated in the piece’s theme song by Yolandi Strauss.
Die Soutwaterheks promises 25 chapters: Watch this space for consecutive reviews!
- Die Soutwaterheks: Episode 1 Pille en Ander Probleme (The Sea Witch: Pills and Other Problems) is written by Martyn Le Roux. Directed by Martyn Le Roux, and featuring technical input by Arné van Mollendorf, it is performed by Jurgen Bosman, Deon Botha, Francois Coertze and Annette Havenga. It is available here.