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RUN TO GROUND (article first published : 2003-06-7)

Presenting his first production in his tenure as artistic director of the Kwasuka Theatre, Greg King has made the bold move of presenting Run to Ground, an English translation of Diepe Grond by one of South Africa’s most prolific and notable playwrights, Reza de Wet.

Reza de Wet is credited as having won more major South African theatre and literary awards than any other writer, including Athol Fugard. Produced by Art for Africa in association with the National Arts Council, Run to Ground is a powerful piece of drama that is excellently performed and directed, although there are abrupt changes on mood and logic where perhaps the play falls down in translation.

Inexplicably titled a “black comedy” - as there is not much humour in the play - Run to Ground is better described as a psychological thriller. It has some acute moments of tension as we follow the dark and unhinged passage of the sexually-frustrated Sussie (Belinda Harward) who has influenced and manipulated her younger brother Frikkie (Steven Stead) to such an extent that his mind is just as confused as hers. Between them they create a diabolical pair, utterly dependent on each other and prepared to sink – joyously! – to any depths to stop anyone altering their continued unnatural and bizarre way of life.

Voice coach Marie Visagie has done a great job – Belinda Harward has successfully managed to flatten her vowels and produce an accurate accent although Steven, who has been working in major theatre circles in London for some years, has not completely subdued his normal excellent English diction and enunciation.

The two put in stunning performances – powerful, well-sustained and credible. It is a tour de force for both of them as they move in and out of moments of fanaticism and disturbing memories.

Nice to see the always–consistent Frantz Dobrowsky back in Durban again – the last time he performed here was in Irma Vep, all of eight or so years ago. As the lawyer Grove, his thankless task is to deliver a report back to the youngsters’ aunt about their status. His hideous demise fortunately happens offstage but the reactions from Sussie are sufficient for the audience to understand exactly what is happening to him. The ensuing scene is extremely moving as the two review their ghastly deed.

Stolid and taciturn, Patti Nokwe is an utter delight as the ever-loyal maid/housekeeper. With very little to say, she still presents a major force in the play and beautifully portrays her compassion of her charges, particularly at the end.

Greg King’s set is excellent – he’s created a derelict farmhouse with massive double doors, peeling paint, stained bedclothes and mismatched furniture.

Reza de Wet’s award winning thriller comes to Durban after sell-out seasons in Cape Town, Grahamstown, Johannesburg and Bloemfontein. There is absolutely no reason why the play shouldn’t attract the same response in Durban. Don’t miss it – but be warned, it’s not for the faint-hearted!

Run to Ground is being presented at the Kwasuka Theatre from June 6 to 28. There are no matinees. Performances Tuesday to Saturday at 20h00 and Sundays at 18h30. Tickets R50 excl. Computicket surcharges (R40 students, pensioners and block bookings 10 or more). Booking is through Computicket or Greg on 083 544 2006. - Caroline Smart




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