Scenes from Vir.Ander and Die Reuk Van Appels ... the authenticity and idiosyncratic cultural detail is outright mesmerising. Pictures: Sanmari Marais
In the midst of the political turmoil of the 70s, a generation of young white Afrikaner sons was mentored into a self-serving social psychosis; one that manifested in a wildly distorted paradigm that bore little, if any, resemblance to the traumatic reality existing outside of their shielded bubble.

They absorbed their elders’ inequitable and malevolent pronouncements as a given, and, as this “given” happened to be “the will of God”, they had little inclination towards questioning it.

They trusted their fathers, their president and their God. For few, cynicism blessedly transpired once confronted with the indoctrination in preparation for a twisted war that rendered only victims and no heroes.

Many, however, remained oblivious to their unquestionable patriotism’s fallacies.

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Eleven-year-old Marnus Erasmus had his own disillusionment too early, when the ruse of goodness, righteousness and Godliness was lifted for him by his hero-worshipped father, a general in the South African Defence Force.

What Marnus saw that fateful night does not change one’s political view. It shatters your trust in humanity.

Die Reuk van Appels, based on the novel by Mark Behr and masterfully adapted for the stage by Johann Smith, is not a political reminiscence. It is a devastating expose of human tragedy.

Scenes from Vir.Ander .Pictures: Sanmari Marais

Director Lara Bye and Gideon Lombard (as Marnus), manage to produce a performance that uncannily resembles the Afrikaner mentality of the time.

For those of us who grew up in Afrikaans homes in that era, the accuracy and attention to authenticity and the idiosyncratic cultural detail is outright mesmerising.

Lombard’s impeccable embodiment of his numerous characters is flawless and effortless.

Die Reuk van Appels does not beat around the bush. It is blatantly disturbing. It cannot be anything less.

Vir.Ander is a new South African play by Jannes Erasmus, which is based on actual events. When a group of young men is sent to a notoriously inhumane “conversion camp” in order to be transformed into “real men”, controversy around manhood, masculinity, sexuality and acceptance runs rife. Homosexual tendencies are met with severe beatings, torturing and life-threatening brutalising.

Erasmus vividly captures the shocking reality of the dangerous idiocy to these callous and retarded acts and effectively juxtaposes stagnant and stunted traditional values with contemporary liberalism.

Ferdinand Gernandt, as the psychopathic and creepy general, and his abhorrent and backwards sidekick, Erasmus (played by Johan Baird), manage to incite grave antipathy in the viewer, making one’s empathy for the young men a truly disturbing experience.

The cast of young men give a stellar performance.

As an ensemble they evoke heartfelt compassion for their senseless, but all too real suffering.

For a riveting theatre experience, be sure not to miss either of these productions.