Only Gertrude. Only Alice. – My View by Robyn Sassen


Robyn Sassen

A freelance arts writer since 1998, I fell in love with the theatre as a toddler, proved rubbish as a ballerina: my starring role was as Mrs Pussy in Noddy as a seven-year-old, and earned my stripes as an academic in Fine Arts and Art History, in subsequent years. I write for a range of online and print publications, including the Sunday Times, the Mail & Guardian and and was formerly the arts editor of the SA Jewish Report, a weekly newspaper with which I was associated for 16 years.
Robyn Sassen


ONLY you: Alice B Toklas (Lynita Crofford) and Gertrude Stein (Shirley Johnston). Photograph by Philip Kuhn.

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OCCASIONALLY, IN THIS country and this industry, one is privy to a work that absolutely shines with all the values that good theatre promises to deliver. Amid all the political correctness, the paralysing self-censorship and other contemporary humourless ghoulies that beset our already beleaguered arts, there is this: Win Wells’s Gertrude Stein and a Companion with Shirley Johnston and Lynita Crofford, and the wit and repartee, the timing and craftedness of this work makes it feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven.

It’s a combination of talent, with Chris Weare directing, and the narrative of the lives of Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas themselves overseeing this tale of life and art and love and hate and letting go, that will leave you tingling with theatrical repletion. Both women were very clear products of the rushing of art values that happened from the turn…

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