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Tuesday, July 2, 2013


(David Dennis)  

Review from Keith Millar at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.
In order to showcase a significant body of work by a single South African playwright the National Arts Festival nominated Mike Van Graan as its 2013 Festival Playwright. Because of this I felt that it I should see at least one of Van Graan’s works at the festival this year. I chose Brothers in Blood as this play was the 2012 Standard Bank Ovation prize winner.
Well, after seeing this production I can say that I certainly don’t regret my choice. This is one of the most powerful, explosive and thought-provoking dramatic works I gave seen in a long time.
The multi-layered story is based in Cape Town in the late 1990’s against the background of the activities of the group called People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (PAGAD) which was causing tension within the city at the time. It explores the universal theme of religious intolerance and prejudice between Muslims, Christians and Jews. Three fathers, one from each faith, try to protect their families from various external threats such as drugs, crime and xenophobic violence. Each has suffered brutality and loss from gratuitous violence and is finding it difficult to come to terms with the challenges they are facing in an increasingly volatile world.
The cast for this production are all gifted actors and give quite stunning performances. The standout, however, is David Dennis. He is commanding, sustained and intelligent in his portrayal of the Muslim father. A truly stellar performance. Not far behind is Kurt Egelhof in the role of the Christian father and priest. Also a quite remarkable performance.
The others in the cast who all make significant contributions to the brilliance of the production are Aimee Valentine, Harrison Makubalo and David Dukas. The outstanding direction of this superb dramatic piece is Greg Homann. Lighting design was by Denis Hutchinson.
Brother in Blood a wonderful production. I cannot imagine that there is anyone who would not be moved by this meaningful and topical drama. Brother in Blood runs until July 4 at 10h00 daily at the Gymnasium at the National Arts Festival. Tickets R50/R30/R40. – Keith Millar