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DIRECTOR: Phillip Rademeyer
CAST: Carel Nel, Cintaine Schutte and Renata Redelinghuys
VENUE: The Intimate Theatre
Though currently presented as one half of a double bill alongside Full Stops on Your Face, this Afrikaans play, Tee, is more fully formed.
Driven even more by the delivery of the prose than the actions of the actors, Tee is presented as a post-apocalyptic nightmare but really questions the idea of identity – in a world that has imploded, so logic no longer applies.
The one-act drama features three strangers who may just be all that is left of civilisation. Or not. They don’t know what is going on and there is never any definitive explanation.
Hurled into an underground room with minimal furniture and even fewer amenities, the trio are in shock, having run into darkness, scary creatures and despair.
Choking on occasional bursts of smoke they charge around the room, knocking over chairs and each other, rubbing each other up the wrong way and generally behaving like people under severe stress.
Initially refusing to name herself, the one character (Redelinghyus) turns out to be a feminist of the irritating kind, while the other woman (Schutte) is pregnant and obsessed with lips.
At first you think she is applying lipstick in an attempt to impose a sense of normality on this abnormal situation, but then she starts rambling about what hides behind her lips.
The seemingly random rambling of these characters is actually the best part because within the absence of the give-and-take social behaviour, stuck as they are in this room with no exits, they give voice to what really irks them and we come closer to finding out what drives them.
Nel makes of his character, Basjan, a twitchy fellow, even more overtly traumatised than the women. He soon tries to establish his dominance over the women, or does he?
The power-play between the three fluctuates, always within the confines of how they expect the other person to behave, based on expectations around gender and specifically within their expectations around their own (white Afrikaner) culture.
The (fixed) ritual of a cup of tea to soothe whatever irritates you – a ritual they somehow manage to indulge in, in this odd Womble hole – is directly juxtaposed with the (fluid) assumptions they have about each other.
The climax of the play sees all three of them recognising something about themselves. Granted, you are still not quite sure what is going on – what was the apocalypse? How did they get there? And where is there, anyway?– but the characters have gained their epiphanic moment and move on… out of the door.