A stirring historical epic

2012-03-15 00:00

IF YOU have yet to catch Neil Coppen’s superb play, Abnormal Loads, then you simply cannot afford to miss its run at the Playhouse in Durban from tomorrow to March 31.

Coppen was the Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for Drama in 2011, and the play he produced for the Na­tional Arts Festival in Grahamstown is deeply rooted in the history of KwaZulu-Natal.

Set in a fictional battlefield town in the once war-ravaged valleys of northern KwaZulu-Natal, Abnormal Loads is part ghost story, part love drama, part historical epic and part dark comedy. To create his work, Coppen not only juxtaposes past and present, but during the course of the play, they intersect — and remind us that the past often repeats itself, and human beings find it hard to break free from the deeply ingrained beliefs they have.

Abnormal Loads tells the story of Vincent Bashford (Muthusi Magano), a mixed-race descendent of the town’s founding father, who grows up alongside his conservative colonial grandmother, Moira (Allison Cassels), on a farm outside of town.

After 29 years spent in relative ­isolation, Vincent begins to dream of an ­escape. Spurred on by his new friend, Katrien Joubert (Jenn Dunster), the ­rebellious 16-year-old daughter of the NG Kerk dominee, and Moira’s domestic worker, Prudence (Fortunate Dhlomo), the three youngsters begin to unravel a series of secrets and events that connect them across time, memory and history.

Showtimes are Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30 pm, with 2.30 pm matinées on Saturdays and Sundays. There is no show on March 21, and there will be two morning schools’ performances on March 22 (no evening show).

Tickets are R110 (R80 for pupils and pensioners) from Computicket, and ­early booking is advised.

School bookings must be made through Margie Coppen at 031 266 1459 or 083 251 9412.

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