Review of Statements after an arrest under the immorality act/the island
“important plays about our freedom”
by Michael Spring for remotegoat on 02/10/08
These are important plays. Not because the tragedy of Africa continues to find new and more desperate ways to unwind as each decade goes by. More because we need to keep reminding ourselves of the signs and smells of oppression and injustice. The similarities are remarkable whether you take as your model France after the revolution, Stalin’s Russia, Hitler’s Germany or the old South Africa, where these two short plays are set.
In Statements After An Arrest, Dani McCallum plays Frieda, the white librarian who falls in love with a black schoolteacher who is trying to better himself. Today, in Britain, we might just say, so what? But in the South Africa of a few years ago, this was a crime, part of the ridiculous criminal code that tried to legislate for the separate development of races.
It is the small-mindedness of the bureaucracy that continues to amaze, even today, something which is brought into sharp focus by the statements of Detective du Preez (Mary Tynan).
The second play, the Island, describes a slice of the life of two long-term inmates of the infamous prison on Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent so many wasted years. There is, ironically, a lot of comedy here, and you really get a feeling for the closeness of the prisoners Winston (Kyle Turlunch) and John (Chris Rochester).
In both productions, the performances all round are solid and effective, rather than amazing, and Dumle Kogbara’s direction is understated, so there is possibly more of an even texture across the pieces than there might be. That is to nitpick though. These are moving dramas.
Go and see them and remind yourself why we should never take democracy and freedom for granted.