OOM SCHALK, FROM THE HEART
CAST: David Muller
VENUE: Seabrooke’s Theatre
IT’S good to see actor David Muller back on the stage here after an absence of over 25 years. Now based in Cape Town, he was a stalwart of the Durban theatre scene in the late 1980s. He will be remembered for his performances in shows directed by Professor Elizabeth Sneddon and in Pieter Scholtz’s series of Tamboetie plays for young people.
Oom Schalk, from the Heart, which opened last night at Seabrooke’s Theatre, had a successful run at the Kalk Bay Theatre earlier this year and comes to Durban directly from the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. artSMart reviewer Keith Millar saw the production there and said Muller is “a worthy successor to the late, great Patrick Mynhardt, who toured the country for 30 years performing Herman Charles Bosman’s stories”.
At the theatre, you are offered what looks like four handwritten pages from a diary. Representing Muller’s passion for storytelling and the art of actual writing, this is the programme. In it, Muller acknowledges the people who have donated two very important accessories to his costume. One is his hat, which dates back to pre-Boer War, and his velskoen which have their own story to tell.
Determined to tell Bosman stories until he dies, Muller and his director Celia Musikanth have created an engaging and highly entertaining production full of the author’s rich humour, which transports audiences to the world of Groot Marico through the eyes of the inimitable Oom Schalk Lourens. The intimacy of Seabrooke’s Theatre is a perfect venue for this enjoyable journey.
The staging couldn’t be simpler. A lone sturdy bench, which becomes a horse, a wagon and a grassy area in the veld, is all there is. Props include a tin mug and a jacket, and an intriguing cloth-covered collection of items which is revealed in the final story.
Oom Schalk, from the Heart features Veld Maiden; In the Withaak’s Shade; A Bekkersdal Marathon; The Gramophone, and Willem Prinsloo’s Peach Brandy. Muller gives each story the full quality of its own distinctive character and mood.
In an informal chat after the show, Muller urges his audience to encourage storytelling, and I’m sure many people will leave the theatre determined to discover Bosman’s works if they don’t know them already.
• Oom Schalk, from the Heart runs at Seabrooke’s Theatre at DHS until Saturday, July 26, with performances from Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7pm. Tickets R80 with discounts for block bookings, pensioners and students. To book, call Ailsa on 083 250 2690.