Writer & Performer Robyn Paterson – Producer Impi Theatre Company
Performance Dates 19th -23rd February 2019, 7.00pm
The South Afreakins tells the story of Helene and Gordon planning for their old age, all the while grieving for their murdered son Steve. Helene wants to swap her fearful life in South Africa for the freedom of a retirement home in New Zealand. Her husband Gordon wants to stay in South Africa and defend the life they have there. He seems more at ease with the changing dynamics of life for white South Africans.
The best thing about the South Afreakins is writer and performer Robyn Paterson moving superbly between the two characters. Her portrayal of Gordon is as convincing as that of Helene. The quickfire change of voices and mannerisms is not just entertaining and skilled, but also very well observed. The switching could have become tedious, but Robyn’s conviction and energy sustained it very well for the 65 or so minutes of the show.
Helene is infuriating, not only in how she speaks about their maid’s honesty, but also in her ability to persist with her side of the argument, and in so doing brings us several comic moments.
Poor (no doubt long-suffering) Gordon, hapless Gordon, lets his wife have her way, eventually. He sacrifices his friendship with Clive, and the care of his dead son’s grave and trees (apparently) planted in his memory, to others. I wanted to know more about the trees!
The story is apparently based on Robyn’s own parent’s move to New Zealand and I couldn’t help wondering if the play would have been stronger had she been free of any obligation to them. Helene lacks the boldness of (say) Pieter-Dirk Uys’s Evita Bezuidenhout. The end of the play also felt a little confused, but there was much to enjoy in Robyn Paterson’s performance.
The South Afreakins will return to Edinburgh Fringe Festival (August 2019) alongside the premiere of The South Afreakins 2: The Freakin’ Family
Running Time: 65 mins