Monday, 2 December 2013

The Dead Wait by Paul Herzberg

The Park Theatre
Directed by Joe Harmston

This is a play of real power.  A four hander on a more or less blank stage (a coffin shaped hole and a coffin shaped rock) it is both visceral and intellectual, using, as in all the best things, the particular to tell us something about the general.  The central character is Josh Gilmour (Austin Hardiman), a soldier press ganged into the South African war in Angola.  It is his journey that the play describes.  This journey is a literal one, as he carries his prisoner (Maynard Eziashi), a member of the ANC - "Mandela's crew" - back towards the South African border. As he goes he learns that his sympathies lie more with his burden than with his commander, the loathsome, though far from one-dimensional Papa Louw (played by the playwright).  This might have been called The White Man's Burden.

The performances of Eziashi and Hardiman are first class, and Paul Herzberg's creation in Papa Louw is both menacing and fascinating. The design  (Simon Scullion) and lighting (Mike Robertson)  were top drawer.  A very good production of a very good play.

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