Bankable Bosman: a dual perspective

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TO Mafeking Road1 INLSA Mafikeng Road is one of the shows gracing the stage at the 2012 Nation Art Festival. Photo: Sizwe Ndingane

It’s rare that one is given the chance to see a writer interpreted by different generations in classic and contemporary styles.

That’s exactly what happens with Tara Notcutt’s Mafeking Road and Nicky Rebelo and Jurie Steyn’s Post Office. Both based on the work of Herman Charles Bosman, their approach and interpretations are very different. Actor David Butler and writer/director Rebelo have certainly staked their Bosman claim – and having pulled it off again, it’s sweetly theirs.

The thing with Bosman is that for many of us, his stories are perhaps too familiar, but what Butler does is give it such a beautiful reading, one is easily seduced. Audiences have also cottoned on and from the first performance of this premiere run at the National Arts Festrival, the shows are packed out. Especially with a performer who plays with such delicacy and authenticity, the rich rewards are justified.

One could hear people whispering in admiration when the papers packed out on the counter because of dripping rain (all, of course, imaginary) were wet! It’s that kind of imagination and innovation that adds texture and nuance to the whole.

But even more compelling for those who had seen Notcutt’s funky Mafeking Road, probably by sheer coincidence, both shows had one similar story – that of the marathon psalm singing in the local Groot Marico church – which highlighted the differences, but also pointed to the diversity, of a writer such as Bosman when approached with integrity.

Featuring two delightful actors, Andrew Laubscher and Mathew Lewis, theirs is a physical theatre performance and almost pushes Bosman into fast-forward as they skid across the floor to make entrances and exits, character changes that are lightning fast and animals are included in the range, and when the actors want some time out, they turn on themselves and discuss the merits of a specific interpretation.

It’s fast and funny, the antics of the performers as sexy as the Bosman storytelling and what these very different performances and styles tell you is that while this oft-performed writer might have fallen off your radar, by hook or by crook, his stories are good enough to do again and again when done with such delight and showmanship as both these shows display.

Let’s hope it’s a case of “have Bosman, will travel” because certainly both – classic and contemporary – are worth another season… or two.

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