Theatre Review: Gertrude Stein And A Companion – Making A Stein Way, Or Alice Through The Hourglass

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By BRUCE DENNILL

 

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Gertrude Stein And A Companion / Directed by Chris Weare / Auto & General Theatre On The Square, Sandton, Johannesburg

 

An intimate piece that takes place in a single room and a carefully delineated emotional space, Gertrude Stein And A Companion tells, more or less, the story suggested in its title. What seems a very dry title soon proves a clever bit of misdirection.

Gertrude Stein – an American in Paris; a successful author, poet and close friend of era-defining artistic superstars from Ernest Hemingway to Pablo Picasso in an age where being an influencer actually meant something – is as confident, bolshy and full of life as you’d expect her to be (even thought the timing of the narrative means she’s, er, dead). But it is her long-term partner, Alice Toklas, who is the more practically capable of the pair. Without both Toklas’ steadiness and her caustic, sometimes brutal insights, Stein would never have been afforded the time and space to…

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