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Posts Tagged ‘Antony Sher’

I really enjoyed this play by South African actor and playwright John Kani, who also plays one of the two roles. He has lived in South Africa throughout the apartheid period and the twenty-five years since. His fellow actor Antony Sher was born in South Africa and lived there for twenty years during apartheid, and is now a great Shakespearean actor of similar age as his character. There can be no better pairing to tell this story.

Lunga Kunene is a nurse. He has switched from working in hospitals to providing live-in twenty-four hour care in the Johannesburg homes of seriously ill patients. His latest is Shakespearean actor Jack Morris, with stage four liver cancer. Despite his condition, Jack is rehearsing his lines to play King Lear in Cape Town later in the year. He has a long-standing drink problem and despite his condition continues to drink, with bottles stashed everywhere.

The one thing they have in common is a love of Shakespeare, Lunga since he learnt Julius Caesar in his native language in school, Jack having made a career playing his roles. Jack’s behaviour towards Lunga is disgraceful, indicative of the worst white attitudes during apartheid. Lunga fights back and tries to get Jack to understand apartheid from his perspective. They discuss their disappointment at the post-apartheid period.

Their very personal stories perfectly illustrate what apartheid did to a nation and how long it will take to heal. Though it covers serious issues, there is a lot of humour, but its also sometimes shocking, with the audience gasping, and at other times deeply moving. It’s a play of great humanity and I was captivated by it. Kani and Sher are both brilliant in their respective roles, the former assertive and dignified, the latter angry and troubled.

Great to see this co-production between Cape Town’s Fugard Theatre and the RSC in the West End, and to see these fine actors together again.

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