national Arts Festival Banner

Friday, September 26, 2014


(Shaun Acker & Pieter Bosch Botha)

(Review from the artSMart team covering the 2014 Witness Hilton Arts Festival which ran at Hilton College from September 19 to 21)

Marvellously crafted work with realistic characters and dialogue that is completely genuine. (Review by Keith Millar)

Civil Parting is a bitingly funny comedy/drama about a relationship which has turned sour.

Glenn (Shaun Acker) and Jean-Pierre (Pieter Bosch Botha) have been married for seven years but now their union has broken down and they are spitting up.

The play starts when they meet in the offices of the lawyer who they hope will facilitate their divorce. Both are professional people and respected members of society so they hope to keep the proceedings as amicable as possible.

The lawyer has been delayed and his secretary is out so the two are left alone in the office. Their awkward conversation soon leads to accusations and squabbling as the hurt and unhappiness over their failed relationship bubble to the surface. As the cracks in their feigned civility widen, they become increasingly acrimonious and hostile towards each other until the story rushes to a surprising conclusion.

Sounds like serious stuff. But writer Nicholas Spagnoletti - who also penned the wonderful London Road a few years ago – uses brilliant and rather acerbic humour along with insight and sensitivity to tell this rather painful story. It is a marvellously crafted work with realistic characters and dialogue that is completely genuine.

Shaun Acker plays Glenn as a fabulously camp and flamboyant character. He gives an outstanding and memorable performance in the role.

Jean-Pierre, played by Pieter Bosch Botha, is a more serious, down to earth character who is the complete opposite to the rather over-the-top Glenn. Botha also puts in a notable performance. The director of the production is Zanne Solomon.

It matters not at jot that the characters in Civil Parting are gay men. This is a story about a relationship which has run its course and as such could be applicable to anyone. What it does is pose questions about what happens when romance dies and a relationship comes to an end.

Is a truly Civil Parting ever possible? – Keith Millar