South African season of plays

South African season of plays

Robert Tanitch reviews Fever & District 6 at Jermyn Street Theatre, London SW1

Anthony Biggs, artistic director of Jermyn Street Theatre, is celebrating a diverse range of South African writing to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the dismantling of Apartheid. I caught up with two out of the three one-act plays.

Reza de Wet’s Fever feels as if it has been adapted for the stage rather than a stage piece in its own right. The script is a series of letters and diary entries, which are exchanged between two sisters during a period just after the Boer War.

Emma (Sian Clifford) is in South Africa for the first time as a teacher and is convinced the Afrikaner farmer, in whose house she resides wants to seduce her. She is horrified by his brutality to animals. Meanwhile back in England married Katy (Peta Cornish) is sick and paranoid about what her husband and the nanny are doing to her. A story of Victorian repressed sexuality and obsession is given a neat and understated Gothic production by Anthony Biggs.

District 6 – Our Buckingham Palace is a monologue in praise of Richard Rive, the South African novelist and playwright, who was murdered in 1989. He lived in District 6 and he wrote a popular novel about the people who lived there and whose lives were destroyed when the bulldozers came.

Basil Appollis, co-author and actor, has obviously performed his monologue many times and the performance lacks spontaneity; it is as if he were on auto-pilot and speaking by rote.

Fever, District 6 and Athol Fugard’s legendary Statements After An Arrest Under The Immorality Act are playing in repertory until July 12.

To learn more about Robert Tanitch and his reviews, click here to go to his website