New play set in the sixties sows the seeds of change

2009-03-10 00:00

DURBAN actor-writer Neil Coppen presents a cutting-edge piece of theatre, Tree Boy, as part of the the Playhouse Company’s New Stages series.

The play follows the relationship of a father and son in the early sixties in South Africa. After the untimely death of his mother, 10-year-old Benjamin Sprout and his father, Arthur, a postman, are forced to relocate from their rural farm property in the mountains to a burgeoning mining town in the Transvaal.

The town, “Rykdom” is an industrial wasteland and a far cry from the world young Ben has previously relied on to fuel his wild imaginings. As Arthur, paralysed by grief and clinging to the memory of his late wife, consoles himself with drinking, Ben seeks solace in an overgrown forest on the fringes of the town.

It is here that Ben meets the enigmatic Pappus Drupe who becomes his guide, opening up a world of possibility and sowing the seeds of revolutionary change that will have a profound effect on the town and its people and, crucially, on the relationship between Ben and his estranged father.

Eleven-year-old Durban actor Daniel Botha plays Ben and award-winning actor Michael Gritten takes on the role of Arthur in the play, which mixes stop-motion animation and shadow puppetry with live performance.

Tree Boy is at the Loft Theatre from March 12 to March 14. Performances are at 7 pm on March 12 and March 13 and at 3 pm and 7 pm on March 14. Tickets R45 from Computicket or the Playhouse box office at 031 369 9540 or 031 369 9596.

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