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ENEMY (article first published : 2000-03-1)

Technikon Natalís drama department has been producing challenging and good quality productions for some time. Last year it presented Animal Farm, Waiting for Godot, People of Heaven (a new South African musical), the highly successful Lost in the Stars and the dance drama Mama Mama.

Running until March 7 in the Courtyard Theatre, the departmentís latest continues in the same vein. Enemy is a fairly hard-hitting three-hander by Robin Maugham (although the programme does not acknowledge this) that requires an in-depth maturity and sensitivity of performance from its two major actors, Bryan Hiles and Thabo Godide.

Enemy was produced in film format some years back and featured the late Richard Haines, Ekhardt Rabe and Nigel Vermaas. Originally set in the Western Desert featuring a confrontation between British and German soldiers, it has been adapted by director Jacky Vermaas who has brought it closer to home and set it somewhere on South Africaís border during a period of armed hostilities.

Bryan Hiles always puts in a consistent performance and continues to do so with his portrayal of the volatile, prickly Ken. However, his voice lets him down occasionally and he has a tendency to shout. He would do well to start studying voice production on a serious level as its lack of versatility will hamper any future prospects in the theatre industry.

Thabo Godide has shown progressive improvement during his time at Technikon and this is definitely an actor to watch. He gives an intelligent and believable interpretation of Paul, the son of a sjambok-wielding father who has learnt to lie in order to survive.

The two work well together and provide strong dynamics as they handle the cut-and-thrust of the first half of this well-written play which is full of wry humour and tension. As they get to know each other in their unfriendly surroundings, they exchange life histories and backgrounds, feelings, fears and hopes. Both characters have had affairs across what was then the forbidden colour line, the one serving six months in jail for his sins. There is a particularly amusing scene when, with much relish, Paul reads Ken a sexy passage from the book he is reading.

Just as they plan to escape, a bullying and coarse officer arrives. As the catalyst in this slowly developing relationship, guest artist Garth Anderson as Dekker offers a powerful and mature stage presence as the sharp-eyed tormentor who very soon tumbles to the fact that he is facing something more than a soldier/prisoner of war situation. His prejudices come to the boil and he devises a way to destroy the enemy although things donít turn out the way he plans.

The set by Rubrecht Designs is excellent with several tons of sand offering authenticity, especially during the fight scenes when the actors end up sprawled full length in it. From the front row, the Centurion tank almost looks like the real thing and Jenny Sanderís lighting is well-placed and atmospheric.

Shows are at 19h30. To book phone the Courtyard Theatre on (031) 204-2532.

Wheelchair report: The Courtyard Theatre is wheelchair friendly, being situated at street level with just one rather large step to negotiate! The cloakrooms are large and can accommodate the chair with ease.




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