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Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Kurt Egelhof performs multiple roles in riveting biography. (Review by Maurice Kort)

Multiple roles performed in this saga of four generations by Kurt Egelhof in For Generations, a riveting biography written by him and which holds the audience spellbound.

As one enters the theatre, one observes four clothes-horses with the costumes that will be used by Kurt Egelhof in this one-hander written and performed by him. After an almost poetic introduction, these come alive as he takes on the characters of the four generations that are portrayed. His costume changes are so smoothly done and integrated into the action that one can only marvel at his performance.

The first is Sonny, the father, a musician who gave up his dream to fight in the Second World War and Kurt Egelhof's change into this costume accompanied by his singing is one of the highlights of the show. Returning to South Africa after the war Sonny is, of course, a worthy member of the Memorable Order of the Tin Hats, the MOTHS and the first insults of the Apartheid laws are revealed.

The next character is Basil, his son, who had to enter the workforce and take on too much responsibility at too young an age to support his family. This was at the whaling station in Durban in the most menial of jobs being a Coloured, job reservation and his bigoted superior, very nicely enacted by Kurt Egelhof.

The story progresses and then, with a change of costume, Kurt, the grandson, an actor - who is, of course, Kurt the author - appears to continue the narrative. While still at school he is sent to a work camp by school principal Mr Temba Wood, another cameo performance by Kurt Egelhof, which turned out to be a camp for delinquent drug addicts etc. This is where Kurt's dreams and aspirations were formed. The MOTHS come into play again when Kurt, the actor, visits their bar with fellow actors where much further hurt and pathos occur, involving the Coloured barman and the manager, Mr Chetty, both enacted superbly by Kurt Egelhof.

Integrated with this sadness and devastation in Kurt's life is the effect on his son, Aston, the great grandson of Sonny. He is a sportsman whose dream it is to represent his country, our country, our future.

One would have the idea that this play should have been called Four Generations but once one sees the play, one can appreciate how well titled it is. It is indeed for the generations who have gone before - examining the complex relationship between father and son and the trials and tribulations Sonny, Basil and Kurt endured and how their characters were moulded. This is an inspiring piece of work bringing to life in a dramatic narrative style the age-old rhetoric Who Am I, Where Do I Come From and Where Am I Going?.

Kurt Egelhof, originally from Durban, graduated from the then University of Natal in 1980 with a BA in Speech and Drama, which shows in his excellent acting and delivery. His return to the stage is most welcome and one can but hope that one will see more of him. For Generations also marks the return to theatre of director Nic Fine and one can also wish that audiences will once more benefit from his skillful direction.

For Generations produced by Applauz Arts Initiative in association with TheatreBIZ, deserves the rave reviews it has received throughout its tour and runs at the Catalina Theatre, Wilson’s Wharf, from April 9 to 25 at 20h00. Tickets R75 (R45 for pensioners and students). However, there is a "buy one get one free" special on Saturdays at 17h00 (Sundays at 14h00). To book and for more information phone the Catalina Theatre on 031 305 6998. - Maurice Kort