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VERGISSMEINNICHT (article first published : 2003-06-29)

VERGISSMEINNICHT is one of those tricky titles Ė tough to remember and the meaning not immediately obvious. (To clear that one up, itís Forget-Me-Not, and itís the name of what one of the characters euphemistically calls ďa successful subsistence farmĒ somewhere in the middle of the Free State.)

Durban-based actors Thomie Holtzhausen and Clinton Marius, who also wrote the piece, play brothers Stephanus and Bastiaan. Bastiaan has returned to his former home to see whether any inheritance might be coming his way now that father is dead, and unlamented. Stephanus has been looking after Pa and running the place, and is far from enthusiastic at the reappearance of his boet who has been leading the sort of dissipated city life that does not go down well on the farm.

Add to the mix a squatter/intruder who has been locked up in the shed, and a whole lot of dark and nasty family secrets that come tumbling out of the old kist, hidden since Ma died.

Hatreds and resentments have festered, the world as the brothers knew it has changed, times are tough and thereís not much that the two arenít prepared to consider as a means of ensuring their shaky-looking future.

It is the stuff of melodrama and the two performers do a nice job of building up the tension as we begin to unravel the familyís murky history.

Holtzhausen is quickly into his stride as the practical, hard-drinking Stephanus; Marius takes a little longer to bring Bastiaan to life but under Caroline Smartís direction the production keeps moving briskly along as the brothers shed any veneer of the niceties of behaviour Ma might have once instilled in them.

I did have a feeling that I might have guessed the denouement before we got there (I had), but the play, title notwithstanding, is solid entertainment.

Vergissmeinnicht has performances in the Glennie Festival Centre on June 30 at 22h00, July 3 at 15h00 and July 4 at 10h00. Book at Computicket or on http://www.nafest.co.za - Margaret von Klemperer




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