Things that can’t always be fixed

Young Caucasian Woman walking  near the sea

THE sea and my pain. Photograph supplied.

“WHAT MATTERS MOST is how well you walk through the fire”, wrote American poet Charles Bukowski. His passionate, angry words in plain language are woven through Afrikaans-language radio play Springgety (Spring Tides) with wisdom and dexterity. This tale about depression and guilt, suicide and the ultimate (but not always realised) need to claw one’s way back, will haunt you. While it never skirts into crass cliché and casts a wry smile at the need to stay afloat in a world where everything feels broken, it is slightly predictable, but this doesn’t affect its potency or its listenability or how the shock reverberates in your head at its denouement.

Lena Dreyer (Rolanda Marais) is a 26-year-old copy writer, who works for an ad agency in Cape Town. She hates it. She’s also in the process of completing her first anthology of haikus. But her sense of self is tarnished and bruised by the reality of brutal loss and how hard it is to make sense of. Indeed, she carries a full and complicated heart and memories that have suffered a wrenching.

Enter Alex (Wessel Pretorius), Lena’s neighbour. He’s a rugby-playing chap with tattoos and a full box of his own broken things, including his heart. But nothing is as it seems. And this is no love story with a happily ever after. When things became too overwhelming for Lena, an inner and relentless voice tips her over the edge. It is Alex and his dog named Beer that offer the hand that reels her back in, broken pieces and all. Does she want to be back? Of course not. But then there’s Jane (Roelien Daneel): an airhostess fatigued of the superficial lipsticked smile, the faux glamour and the tired mile-high-club of her job. She’s fatigued by much else too, but her front is a brave, almost callous one. And you almost believe in her courage.

There’s a hard-edged yet insufferably brittle nature to this character, and her cynicism speaks to the times: but further to that, there’s a sense of gritty self-possession which might make you think of the debauched but moral energies in a film such as Johnny is Nie Dood Nie, which examines the life and time of Johannes Kerkorrel. It’s an interesting comparison, not the least because Marais performed in that work too.

But Springgety will haunt you for reasons other than the obvious ones. It’s a well crafted work that throws up the urgency with which we cling to life and try to force others to, also. Is it about meddling in other people’s intimacies, or is it about the frail shard of connection that makes each of us understand the one medically described as ‘suicidal’ in ways we haven’t the courage to explain or describe?

  • Springgety (Spring Tide) is written by Sophia van Taak, who was awarded third place in the 2017 Sanlam young playwright competition. Directed by Ronél Geldenhuys and featuring technical input by Cassi Lowers, it is performed by Susanne Beyers, Joanie Combrink, Roelien Daneel, Rolanda Marais, Wessel Pretorius, Cintaine Schutte, Juanita Swanepoel and Daneel van der Walt. It will be broadcast on RSG on Thursday April 12 at 8pm and again on the station’s all night programme, Deurnag, on Monday April 16. It is also, available on podcast:

And would you some jam on that, sir?


WAITRESS and tea things, complete with black eye rings of exasperation. Photograph courtesy

ANYONE WHO HAS suffered the busy indignity of having to be a waiter in a coffee shop will relate to this punchy, spicy little foray into the horror and sarcasm, the do’s and don’ts of this, one of the oldest professions in the book. More a monologue with vignettes, Sjarrap en eet jou kos! (Shut up and eat your food!) is a delightful Afrikaans-language radio theatre gem, which will have you laughing with gusto and weeping just a tad in the frisky nuanced approach taken by Ilné Fourie in its construction.

It’s an hilarious lament about poorly-behaved, indecisive, rude and ill-tipping customers and their children and or lovers – or their gossip pals, and as such, the work presents a portrait of Afrikaans culture, not withholding punches with its description and engagement with the different types of people. The vantage point of the ubiquitous waiter (played by Martelize Kolver) who is there to serve, but also often morphs into a proverbial fly on the wall, is a fascinating one, something which you may have tasted a suggestion of in works as diverse as Lionel Newton’s 2014 play Jasmine’s Jewel and Lauri Wylie’s (1963) film Dinner for One. It’s about taking the mundane, and lifting it, with incisive and witty observations, into art.

Under the gentle scathing of Fourie’s sharp pen, you get introduced to the ‘M & M’s (moedige – courageous – moms) who are relentless in peppering their language with diminutives, particularly in dealing with stroppy littlies. The ‘turtledoves’ are the newly infatuated who will share a cup of coffee while they toss embarrassingly syrupy sweetnesses to each other. And then there are the ‘vluister vroutjies’ (whispering little wives) who gather around their tea treats to indulge in exploring the doings and the screwings of their nearest and dearest. To say nothing of the coffee snobs; the guy who wants different parts of his egg cooked at different frequencies; and the picky madams who vie between the restrictions of banting and their own basic ignorance of what goes into food.

But that’s not all. There are also the people for whom you become an uninvited guest in their delicate private moments, moments which make you remember why life is indeed beautiful.

Sjarrap is a lovely holiday play which celebrates the heart and cuisine of what it takes to exist in this country, in certain pockets, where the harshness of dinner table discipline bears fruit.

And it’s as good a reason to stay at home by the wireless this evening, as anything.

  • Sjarrap en eet jou kos! (Shut up and eat your food) is written by Ilné Fourie. Directed by Eben Cruywagen, and featuring technical input by Cassi Lowers, it is performed by Gina Assanté, Susanne Beyers, Ludwig Binge, Roeline Daneel, Martelize Kolver, Leon Kruger and Chris Majiedt. It debuted on RSG in November 2016 and is presented this evening, December 28 at 8pm. It will be rebroadcast on January 1 at 1am in RSG’s Deurnag programme. It is also available on podcast:
  • RSG can be found on 100-104FM, on DStv channel 913 or live on


Strikdas is unforgivably flawed

Boy meets girl. Leandie du Randt plays Willimien de la Harpe, opposite Kaz McFadden as Don 'Vossie' Vorster. Photograph courtesy Indigenous Films.

Boy meets girl. Leandie du Randt plays Willimien de la Harpe, opposite Kaz McFadden as Don ‘Vossie’ Vorster. Photograph courtesy Indigenous Films.

The Afrikaans language is rich in talent – poets and authors, performers and playwrights. There’s a deep and full tradition of radio drama in Afrikaans as there is a history of children of Afrikaans heritage being schooled in the traditional performing arts and being audience members at ballets and operas from babyhood. Indeed, there’s a fabulous tradition of anti-establishment pop music in Afrikaans, to say nothing of a burgeoning presence of Afrikaans productions of Shakespeare and Chekhov on our stages. Why then, should Afrikaans-speaking film going audiences be subjected to such utter trash as Strikdas?

Strikdas – ‘n Familie Gedoente is billed as a comedy which makes it all the more horrifying. Since when is the humiliation of someone because he is poor considered laugh-a-second material? This is basically the theme of this offensively written story, which comprises characters boasting the depth of cardboard cutouts and an engagement with society through the narrative as though this were 1972 and a mandate was in place to shelter white Afrikaans speakers from ‘die swart gevaar’.

It pretends to be a university tale set in the beautiful environs of Stellenbosch University. Well, it is, indeed, set in Stellenbosch University’s beautiful environs, but the level of repartee between the youngsters make the idea that they are university students, laughable. The level of intrigue in this nonsense is as sophisticated as something Enid Blyton’s Famous Five or Secret Seven could have coined on a bad day.

Two kids, Willemien De La Harpe (Leandie du Randt) and Don ‘Vossie’ Voster (Kaz McFadden) are about to embark on their university careers and the plot ahead from the get-go seems so obvious, you sigh. It’s cobbled with the pride of families and a disparate set of social skills, so crudely constructed that it is not clear how or why Vossie is at university altogether, he so radically lacks any level of intelligence, social skills or credibility.

Similarly Willemien: she cooks up an idiotic plan to defeat her stern father who wants her to marry her boyfriend AJ Blignaut (Sean-Marco Vorster), the son of a rich businessman. The boyfriend is yet another weakly cast stereotype, his greatest sin being talking to another young lady, it seems, other than the sin of his limp-wristed portrayal of the handsome young suitor. But the sneaky plan cooked up by the young blonde is one that flippantly features the humiliation of a boy she doesn’t like because he comes of a lesser social set to her. Oh, and he wears a bowtie, which is a family heirloom. Riveting stuff, I tell you.

But it hardly seems fair to only isolate the central characters in this appalling piece of bilge. Each character – from the pseudo gothic little sister to the sinister grandmother to the boyfriend’s father with a hairstyle that speaks of the 1970s with revolting boldness, so patently lacks any level of development and the tale which should pin them together is so lacking in fluidity that could give it reason that you find yourself thrust into 90 minutes too much of witnessing a half-cocked situation that involves rich farm families and complex money deals and forged documents.

Nary an actor of colour is to be seen in this impossibly poor piece of film which has an obvious denouement and features such blatant cruelty from such undeveloped characters that you have to ask yourself what the funders of such nonsense are thinking? Or maybe you have to ask yourself why this industry deserves any funding at all, if this is what it can produce. Above all, you have to ponder why the Afrikaans-speaking film-going audiences are being so miserably patronised by the whole team that has put together a film of such dire weakness. Surely, they deserve better.

  • Strikdas: ‘n Familie Gedoente is directed by Stefan Nieuwoudt and performed by Susanne Beyers, Elsabe Daneel, Gys de Villiers, Leandie du Randt, Albert Maritz, Kaz McFadden and Sean-Marco Vorster. It is produced by Stefan Enslin and Philo Pieterse, and created by Etienne Fourie and Stefan Enslin (scriptwriters) Jacques Koudstaal (director of photography), Johan Kruger and Anneke Villet (supervising producers) and James Caroll (editor) Release date: April 3 2015.