Summerworks Picks 2014: Part 1

9 Aug

The 2014 edition of SummerWorks is only barrelling into its first weekend, and we’ve already caught some remarkable shows! The highlight so far:

He Left Quietly

HERO-HLQ-crop-2-small-620x500Based on the true story and testimony of Duma Kumalo, a black South African who, under the Apartheid regime, was falsely convicted of murder and sentenced to death, He Left Quietly packs a powerful and heart-wrenching punch. Playwright Yaël Farber, herself a loosely-veiled character in the play, at one point expresses how little she really knew about the true nature of the Apartheid criminal justice system until hearing Duma’s story – a thought which no doubt resonated with many an audience member. That Duma was sent to death row for having simply been in the vicinity of a protest that eventually turned violent – an outcome made possible by the Apartheid laws which were Draconian and Orwellian in equal measure – is only the tip of the iceberg of revelations that emerge from the piece.

The Canadian team responsible for this production do a remarkable job with the material. Anchoring the work is Conrad Coates who, in his skilful turn as the former prisoner, conveys a quiet dignity and tangible struggle for inner peace. Director Leora Morris makes some very apt choices, such as to leave the elder Duma literally sitting front and centre for the vast majority of the show, allowing his weighty words to be unencumbered, and handing over the dramatic elements to talented performers Tawiah M’Carthy (Young Duma) and Aviva Armour-Ostroff (Woman).

A haunting and beautiful work.

 

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