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HONOUR (article first published : 2004-07-10)

Presented by Pieter Toerien and recently seen on the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown’s main programme, Honour is written by Australian playwright Joanna Murray-Smith and impeccably directed by Alan Swerdlow.

The cast is superb. With Fiona Ramsay and Graham Hopkins taking the lead, you know that you can relax and expect fine performances and they were masterful in the execution of their roles. They are excellently supported by Shelley Meskin and Abena Ayivor.

Honour is all about just that: what is right and what is wrong and how much is demanded of an individual? When a couple make their marital vows, in this case 32 years ago, how much does honour play a part as they grow old? Should a couple stay together through a sense of honour? Or, if one of them feels that everything is sliding apart and a new emotion recognisable as all-embracing love enters the arena, can that honour be dispensed with?

“Honour” is also the name of one of the main characters – in this case, Fiona Ramsay’s role as the wife of journalist George (Graham Hopkins) who suddenly takes a shine to young reporter Claudia (Abena Ayivor). While George falls hook, line and sinker, we get the feeling that Claudia may be furthering her ambitions as a writer and journalist. Added to the foursome, is Honour and George’s daughter Sophie (Shelley Meskin) who feels rejected, angry and confused and doesn’t know who to blame – and for what!

The play is elegant and sophisticated while dealing with a subject recognisable at all levels. The script is beautifully written. There is much repetition and it must have been a nightmare to learn. However, Alan Swerdlow has obviously insisted on the text being presented as is which gives the edge to beautiful scenes such as the one in which George tells Honour that he is leaving her.

Jannie Swanepoel’s lighting and set design were focused and Zen-like. Watch out for this production when it comes your way. It’s a beautiful drama from start to finish. – Caroline Smart




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