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Friday, April 1, 2011


Pic Val Adamson: Radwinn van Wyk as Inspector Theo Abrahams; Thabisile Ngcobo as Anna Richards; Lyschelle Linderboom as Gabby Anderson; Siphosenkosi Myeni as Aaron Matshoba and Wiseman Mncube as Luthando Nyaka)

Gripping, enthralling, well presented contemporary political thriller at the Courtyard Theatre. (Review by Maurice Kort)

Written by Mike van Graan originally for radio in 2002, Green Man Flashing evolved into a full length stage play in one act and is being brought to the stage by the Durban University of Technology (DUT). Directed by Robin Singh, it is a contemporary South African drama, not only because it is set in this country but also because it reflects the times so well, although it is a complete work of fiction.

The stage comprises distinct areas: a well-appointed lounge on stage left, another sitting room on stage right and three sets of chairs at small tables set at the back of the stage, left, centre and right. The play starts with short scenes, these taking place with two men in the lounge having their discussion and later a confrontation between a White woman and a Black man, and what appears to be Court proceedings with a man at one of the small tables at the back, Inspector Theo Abrahams (Radwinn van Wyk) at another table and a lady, who turns out to be a lawyer, Anna Richards (Thabisile Ngcobo) at the third table.

The style of the play is filmic and in fact starts with short scenes from later in the play before continuing with what happened earlier. This works as a radio play, the origins of the work, but the very short scenes make for very episodic stage viewing and is rather confusing.

As the narrative unfolds, it is revealed that Gabby Anderson (Lyschelle Linderboom) and Aaron Matshoba (Siphosenkosi Myeni) are a mixed marriage couple who had to be in exile in the old South Africa but are now happily together in their home country and have a son, Matthew. Sadly, he is fatally stabbed when out on his bicycle to buy milk. Gabby works for a Cabinet Minister, Mr Khumalo, and Aaron travels a good deal as a conflict negotiator. All this is slowly revealed and is not immediately obvious. Unfortunately, the marriage does not survive the death of their son and ends in divorce. Three years later, Gabby is raped by her boss who is held in high esteem by the party and expected to be the next Deputy Prime Minister.

The Black man mentioned earlier is Luthando Nyaka (Wiseman Mncube) and used to be a police informer. He is the one who is shot and the subject of the investigation by the Inspector. He also obtains a statement about the rape which Anna Richards, the lawyer, helps Gabby write.

All this might read as being confusing and convoluted, but as the play unfolds it is all very clear and makes for a well-written political drama, as is to be expected from Mike van Graan, acclaimed critic and commentator on the arts and theatre. However, to give more detail and greater clarification would spoil the enjoyment of potential theatre attendance. This would be a pity as the play is gripping, most entertaining and very well-presented. In addition, it gives one much food for thought, exploring the issues of power as it does and posing the contradictions between patriotic duty and human rights. Are there any easy answers?

Lyschelle Linderboom shines in the role of Gaby, especially when talking about her rape and is a talent to be watched. No doubt she will be lost to the bigger city to our North. Siphosenkosi Myeni was very credible as the husband busy with his own career. Thabisile Ngcobo was a most supportive lawyer friend and very effective interrogator when Aaron and the Inspector were witnesses. Radwinn van Wyk was convincing as the Inspector and Wiseman Mncube filled the supporting role of Luthando Nyaka well, although his diction was not up to the top form of the others in the cast.

A minor quibble was that the pace of the play could be improved as it tended to be a little slow at times, although this might have been due to first night nerves. Green Man Flashing can be seen at the Courtyard Theatre, Durban University of Technology until April 1 at 19h00. There is limited secure parking adjacent to the theatre. – Maurice Kort