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KEELY AND DU (article first published : 2002-03-2)

Never one to duck a challenge, Greg King of KickstArt has chosen as the companyís latest production Keely and Du, American playwright Jane Martinís hard-hitting play that deals with abortion issues.

KickstArt is the company that launched itself with the smash-hit Popcorn and recently presented The Importance of Being Earnest in the Square Space Theatre, the same venue that is hosting Keely and Du.

Keely is a brash, foul-mouthed young woman who has been raped by her paranoid ex-husband and is pregnant as a result of the encounter. She checked into an abortion clinic only to be abducted by Christian fundamentalists, one of whom is Du. While the older woman is part of the plan to save the life of the unborn child, she responds to Keely as the daughter she never had.

The play opens as the drugged Keely is being carried into a basement area and handcuffed to a bed. This is to be her home until the birth of her child, for the fundamentalists have no doubt that they will sway her decision.

Playing Keely in her professional debut is Olivia Borgen. Remember the name, you should be seeing much more of this talented actress. Vera Clare (last seen in The Importance of Being Earnest) brings her considerable experience, control and sensitive comedy timing to the part of Du.

This is their play Ė the development of a relationship from Keelyís original rejection of Duís soothing gestures and attempts at small talk to the time where they celebrate Duís birthday with bottles of beer. The scenes between the two actresses are well-played with a riveting credibility, particularly in the final stages of the play in the prison hospital when the roles are reversed.

Aldo Brincat as Walter, Duís superior, makes regular visits to the basement room, each time impressing on Keely the progress of the growing foetus, showing her horrendous pictures of abortions and eventually introducing the much-hated ex-husband. Aldo Brincat tends to underplay this ominous character, not always portraying the control Walter obviously exercises over the project.

As the ex-husband, Esmael Teixeira is faced with the challenge of creating the most impact from a relatively short time on stage. The scene where he asks for Keelyís forgiveness didnít reach its spine-chilling and horrific potential although the abrupt and highly physical change of mood that follows was extremely well handled.

Keely and Du is not for the faint-hearted but it does put into a strong dramatic context the debate for and against abortion. It runs at the Square Space Theatre on the University of Natal Durban campus until March 16 at 19h30. Book at Computicket.




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