The South Afreakins is a comic and heartfelt story of an elderly couples’ emigration from South Africa to New Zealand, inspired by writer and performer Robyn Paterson’s own family. In this one-woman show Paterson plays both roles – Gordon and Helene – and her energy feeds the imagination, making it feel as though both are genuinely present on stage.
When Gordon’s retirement finally sets in, Helene is determined to convince him to move to New Zealand from their home in a South Africa – to leave behind her fears and the memories of her murdered son. Reluctantly, Gordon joins her on this journey, and as Helene becomes comfortable and confident with her surroundings, he becomes more and more isolated in his new home.
It’s takes a bit of time to get used to Paterson switching between the two characters, as well as trying to understand Gordon’s especially thick South African accent – this isn’t helped by the fact that our initial introduction is in the dark and behind the curtain making Paterson’s voice quite muffled. But once she gets into her stride, it’s a delight to see her as the old couple. Her characterisation is brilliantly thought-out and her mannerisms as each person are hysterically on point. By the end you’re heartbreakingly invested in both characters.
Paterson is a strong performer. She fills the stage with life and her familial ties to the story add warmth to her performance. The show is hilarious from beginning to end, but does have some intense sobering moments highlighting themes of displacement, immigration and race. The South Afreakins is a great piece of work expertly put together and performed by Paterson.
The South Afreakins is at the VAULT Festival until 19th February.
Initially only creating work from the Shakespeare canon, Arrows & Traps have more recently been staging other classic adaptations, including Anna Karenina and now Dostoyevsky’s Crime & Punishment. Using Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus’s text, director Ross McGregor has created an evocative piece of theatre, full of fantastic performances.
Raskolnikov (Christopher Tester) an ex-law student, has committed a crime. He relives the events in his mind, through the help of the detective Porfiry (Stephen MacNeice) and a prostitute named Sonia (Christina Baston). By conjuring each person relating to the crime in his head, he is forced to search for redemption. As he pursues answers, more questions about his psychological state and religious outlook arise, unveiling what lead him to his criminality.
The play puts emphasis on the language of the characters, so the text itself is an important focal point, relying on the actors to perform them well. Tester performs Raskolnikov with a brilliant balance of intelligence and conflict. The development of his character from a man obsessed with becoming extraordinary to his descent into madness is exquisite to watch. However, Baston stands out the most with her characterisation and ability to encompass each character she plays with ease and strength, giving a commendable performance.
Karl Swinyard’s lighting coupled with the limited set and only three performers gives this a very intimate feel. McGegor’s choice in doing that allows the actors to focus on their characters, prioritising the storytelling element of the piece. The ensemble cleverly draws you into the small space, and you’re soon eager to find out more about the protagonist.
Arrows & Traps have successfully created an engaging adaptation of Crime & Punishment where the performers have you hooked from beginning to end. There is never a dull moment, and with such a great text to work with, what appears on stage is a striking piece of theatre.
Crime & Punishment is at the Jack Studio Theatre until 25th February.