Fiona Ramsay is no stranger to theatre and television audiences. She’s played everything from a hard nosed journalist to a super villain on some of the country’s biggest soapies. Either way, her performances always leave you wanting more.
In Blonde Poison she continues this by stepping into the life of a Gestappo greifer Stella Goldschlag. In an effort to ensure the safety of her family, she becomes an informant for the Nazis on Jews in hiding. In dealing with the holocaust and a character from that era, the play is a view into the life of a spy of the times.
And while it has been met with mixed reactions ranging from anger right down to sadness, the production has enjoyed success, including a sold out run at the Theatre on the Square.
Speaking to Tonight, Ramsay shared that this role was written by South African, UK based playwright Gail Louw, who also happens to be her sister-in-law.
“When Gail sent me this play, I gave it to Daphne (Kuhn of the Theatre on the Square) who was a little bit nervous because this is a delicate subject. What was interesting was that I’d applied to be part of the National Arts Festival, with three different shows. All three were turned down.
I was phoned by Ismail (Mohamed, former artistic director of the arts fest), who wanted to know if I had a solo piece on war or isolation, and we decided to do it. It was a success in Grahamstown and we brought it to Sandton,” she said.
The show was performed for the first time in 2016, and Ramsay believes that part of the show’s success is that it appeals to various groupings of people. It’s a one woman show and is about an hour long.
“For me, it’s an intimate piece, there’s a lot of connection in that regard. Although, she’s a horrible woman that I play,” she said with a laugh.
“She’s a woman who survives. And we know what those women are.”
Ramsay adds that she doesn’t believe her character to be vicious, just cold. She further adds that one of the main themes of the play is that we often find ourselves in situations that we never dreamed we’d be in - and that is where the survival instinct kicks in.
“It’s particularly pertinent now because it deals with the issues of migration. If Britain and America had kept their doors open a little while longer during the holocaust, some of the crisis could have been averted. And we are facing the biggest crisis of immigrants fleeing their war torn countries - and doors are still being closed. I see this play as a kind of warning, a reminder of our humanity. That’s what it speaks to,” she said.
Blonde Poison is an intense, witty and an emotional journey that tackles one of history’s most notorious eras, the holocaust, and it’s bound to leave the viewer with food for thought.
* Blonde Poison will be on at the Theatre on the Square from January 30 to February 18. Tickets are available from Computicket.