With disruption billed as the
theme of this year's Grahamstown National Arts Festival festival, Ameera Conrad’s "no holds barred" socio-political drama, Reparation, most certainly creates a strong dialogue as it challenges viewers in every which way.
As the audience emerged following the highly unsettling look into the fictional future of the country, there was much to talk about outside the venue, and a family who had come up to Grahamstown from Mthatha to see some of the shows most certainly seemed to be rocked by the finale.
Conrad sets her play in the year 2024, when the populace are baying for blood and demanding reparations for the sins of the former white government. Land and economic reparations are also part of the deal that the former apartheid victims want to see become a reality.
The Supreme Cadre, powerfully performed by Tankiso Mamabolo, is the new leader, assisted by her political adviser Bhavik Mahommed, incisively played by a grey-haired Kiroshan Naidoo.
A massive celebration is planned, and Twitter celeb and YouTube sensation Marco Adonis is brought on to tweet the event. Hannelie, an Afrikaans graduate from Paarl, well-executed (and that's no pun) by Emma Kotze, is led to believe she's come first in a contest and meets up with Marco when she's brought in to join the celebration, or so they both initially believe.
The Supreme Cadre, a recent graduate and key player in the #FeesMustFall campaign, is a former student of Bhavik, who plays the part of the learned professor dotingly to Mamabolo’s staunch, dictatorial leader.
Marco, superbly performed by Cleo Raatus, is the self-opinionated technophobe who comes a cropper with Bhavik for exposing the leader on social media but manages to hold his own. In turn, he and Hannelie cross swords when it comes to history lessons.
Past, present and future meet in this dark comedy which takes one through much of our turbulent past from all points of view.
It reveals a sense of bitterness, optimism, humour, and a frightening look at just how justice can be played.
Conrad was the recent recipient of a Fleur du Cap award for another powerful production, The Fall, which was performed by former students and participants of the student campaign that rocked campuses - during her final year at UCT in 2015, she was in the thick of #RhodesMustFall and part of the team of students who co-edited the #ShutItDown edition of the Cape Argus, which chronicled the #FeesMustFall movement and highlighted the broader struggles for equality.
There's no doubt she's someone to watch out for, with her latest production highly provocative and thought-provoking.
There's some really sassy dialogue that will resonate with anyone and everyone who has lived through the struggle, recent and not so recent. Highly recommended.