STIL is a new Afrikaans work by the award winning Jannes Erasmus. The story follows the intense interrogation of a young teacher who had fallen in love with a hopelessly romantic journalist. The audience although not actively involved in the play, are drawn into the story, as many are seated at tables in a U shape around the stage. Being seated this close to the on stage drama, with pens and notepads provided, created the impression that we were active witnesses to the police interrogation of the young woman, for crimes that are revealed in the course of the play.
The stage design and set, makes use of minimalist projections against the wall of the black box space that is the Momentum Theatre. These projections set the various scenes that build the story leading up to this interrogation, in a way that relies on the audience’s imagination and never takes the audience too far from from the awareness that the details in these scenes are being recalled in the interrogation room.
The play is very well written, and lived up to the expectations created by Smaarties, another work I had seen written by Jannes Erasmus. I found that the language was fast paced, and my limited Afrikaans prevented me from having a thorough appreciation for the language but the wordplay and poetry of the piece was clearly evident even to me.
The play was promoted as being shocking, and to the average theatre goer I would imagine that this would be the case. I see a lot of abstract, shocking and emotionally jarring theatre and for me, this play didn’t live up to they hype generated in the build up to the play. Having said that, one elderly lady in the audience did faint, whether this was the result of a medical condition, the heat in the venue or as a result of the preceding scene which contained considerable shock value, I am in position to say.
I thought the play was very well written, the performances by Zöricke Snyman, Diani Gernandt and the writer Jannes Erasmus himself were all credible, complimenting Erasmus’ scripted character development. Credit must be given to their ability to keep the show going in spite of the distracting medical emergency going on between the audience and centre stage.
This show has a short run, but I highly recommend this, particularly to those who appreciate a good crime drama and the beauty of the Afrikaans language.