Truly remarkable theatre

2009-04-21 00:00

COMPELLING, funny and at times extremely poignant, Out of Bounds is one of those productions which you simply have to see.

The play is narrated by Lal Lachund, a young Indian man growing up in eighties apartheid South Africa, who lives with his parents and extended family in a cramped house in Inanda and longs for a house where he has his own room, instead of one which is shared with numerous family members.

His life is shaped by those around him — his father, Arjan, who ekes out a living repairing shoes, his uncles, who are, respectively, a drunkard, a macho bully and a geeky entrepreneur, their wives, his grandmother, cousins and domestic worker, Thoko.

But Lal has no desire to be tarred with the same brush as his father whom he considers a loser. He would rather aspire to be like his successful uncle Raj who has a home in Reservoir Hills and a BMW.

In the end, however, the only way he can escape is to leave home and travel abroad. But time shows he cannot escape his family and culture, and when his father dies he finds himself back home.

Rajesh Gopie, who wrote and performs in the one-man show, brings to life 28 characters during the course of the show. Each is vividly drawn but I especially loved his depiction of Lal’s grandmother and his tragic cousin, Amir, who turns to drugs when his family ostracise him for being artistic and effeminate.

Out of Bounds is at heart a family drama, but it doesn’t shy away from the dark days of South Africa’s past and in particular the issue of racism, tackling it head on in a confrontation between Lal and a coloured pupil at his school, the interruption of Lal’s grandmother’s birthday party on the beach by two white policemen who tell them to move to the Indian part of the beach, and through Lal’s depiction of the riots in Inanda in 1985 during which Indian homes were torched and the families forced to move to areas such as Phoenix and Chatsworth.

Gopie’s performance is truly remarkable and the story he tells offers both humour, pathos and plenty of food for thought. Don’t miss it.

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