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Friday, October 21, 2011


(Pic by Sean Laurenz: Janna Ramos-Violante and Clinton Small)

Actions and silences speak louder than words in this rerun of compelling two-hander. (Review by Caroline Smart)

The third production in The Playhouse Company’s 2011 New Stages season is Mein Soldat (My Soldier) which only has one more performance tomorrow night in the Playhouse Loft.

This compelling one-act play is written by Janna Ramos-Violante who stars with Clinton Small. Presented by Thinskin Collective, it is directed with clear-sighted focus by Josette Eales.

Set during World War II, the play documents the beautiful and complex relationship of two strangers who find each other through forced circumstances. A young Austrian woman, Irma, has been living a lonely and frustrated life for six years, as she awaits the return from the war of her husband, Konrad. In the drawer of the dresser is a much-crumpled letter which she cannot decipher because it is in English but it appears to contain news of him.

Suddenly her silence is shattered as Duncan, a wounded young British soldier who has escaped from a prisoner-of-war camp in Krems, crashes into her humble home.

I first reviewed Mein Soldat last year at its debut season in The Square Space Theatre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, where the audience surrounded the performance space on three sides, thus bringing us closer to the action. Now playing in a more standard setting in The Loft, it has lost none of its gripping intimacy.

In my 2010 review, I described the play as a “strong dramatic piece resonant with emotion, held with poignant pauses and minimum of dialogue. From their initial meeting – Irma nervous and suspicious, Duncan in pain and fear – their relationship slowly develops, more from instinct that anything else as they are only able to converse in their mother tongues. Grieving and lonely, desperate for love and tenderness, they tentatively reach out for each other … but how long can it last?”

In the 2010 season, the role of Duncan was played by Johannesburg actor James MacEwan. Clinton Small offers a softer and warmer interpretation of the role which works just as well.

Silence is as important as text in a good dramatic piece, and Janna Ramos-Violante and Clinton Small handle these with the required sensitivity, both giving fine performances. There is a delightful scene where they try to find some common ground as they mimic animals to find the correct words in each other’s language.

Mein Soldat’s final performance takes place tomorrow night (October 22) in the Playhouse Loft at 20h00. Tickets R65 booked through Computicket on 0861 915 8000 or online at or call Playhouse Box Office 031 369 9540/9596 (office hours).

The performance runs for 55 minutes and is not for audiences under the age of 13. It is performed in Austrian and English but the actions and silences speak louder than words. Don’t miss it! – Caroline Smart

”Mein Soldat” has just been filmed on location in Dundee, Northern KwaZulu-Natal, again directed by Josette Eales. The final product is to be earmarked for distribution on the international film festival circuit with Tyrone Bradley of We Heart TV as the photographic director.