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Saturday, April 11, 2015


(Sipho Mahlatshana as Plaatje, David Dukas as Rhodes, Frank Graham as Dr Smartt 
and Jeremy Richard as Lt Col Kekewich. Pic by Philip Kuhn)

Peter Feldman’s review of “Hinterland” is published on artSMart with his permission and courtesy of

When Cecil John Rhodes met Sol Plaatje – Review by Peter Feldman (04/09/2015)

Even though it was penned three years ago, Hinterland could not have come at a more opportune time in the light of recent events that unfolded in Cape Town over the removal of the Cecil John Rhodes statue at the university.

This play has remarkable relevance and is a stark reminder of how history has shaped our continent.

The witty script is brilliantly written by Duncan Buwalda, who displays enormous insight into the politics of the time, and cleverly introduces a fascinating concept by having another political icon, Sol Plaatje, become part of the action, though in reality the two never met.

The interaction between these two characters forms the foundation of a play that gives a fresh perspective on Rhodes as a man and as a visionary, and Plaatje, a gifted and versatile journalist and activist, who also had an important role to play in the history of the country.

By placing these individuals together in a hotel during the Siege of Kimberly, and exploring the various ramifications involved, make for engrossing theatre and director Caroline Smart has done a solid job in this area. At times, though, the actors’ grouping could have been more imaginative, especially in the case of the scenes between Colonel Kekewich and Rhodes which was devoted to a small corner of the stage where the audience mostly had side views of the players.

Themes on racism, homosexuality, the Native problem, diamond mines and the Anglo-Boer conflict are neatly woven into the fabric of the script and there is plenty of food for thought as various arguments are explored.

The plays opens with Rhodes’ rotund Scottish physician, Dr Smartt (Frank Graham), setting the tone with some political background.

A young Sol Plaatje (Sipho Mahlatshana) has been hired as a typist to Cecil John Rhodes (David Dukas) whose initial hostility to the black man soon softens as their unique relationship gets underway.

Mahlatshana’s character evolves from being respectful of Rhodes’ stature in the beginning to maturing into a personality who finally faces his former boss on equal intellectual terms. And the actor pulls of this transformation most convincingly.

David Dukas makes a well-rounded and imposing Rhodes, a man of the world, who knows his destiny and is prepared to fight for what he believes, is right.

The fourth character is the British Army officer, Colonel Kekewich, played by Jeremy Richard, in an ill-fitting uniform, who provides the character with the necessary stiff-upper lip military demeanour.

This fascinating and insightful production is enhanced by the evocative music and impressive set.

Hinterland is on at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square until 25 April. – Peter Feldman

“Hinterland” runs at the Auto and General Theatre on the Square until April 25 with performances from Tuesday to Saturday at 20h15 and Saturdays at 18h00 and 20h30. Bookings can be made by calling the theatre on 011 883-8606, Strictly Tickets on 082 553 5901 or book online:

Enquire about group discounts and dinner show packages. This season of “Hinterland” is supported by the Arts & Culture Trust.