A fast-paced political thriller will be gracing the stage of the Auto and General Theatre on the Square from next week. Green Man Flashing, originally penned by Mike van Graan, will certainly get tongues wagging as it did when it premiered in 2005.
The story is set in 1999, six weeks before the country’s second elections in 1999. The white personal assistant to a high-profile, black government minister with an impeccable anti-apartheid Struggle record, alleges that he has raped her.
Should the allegation become public, it would seriously damage the governing party in the elections. The party sends a two-member delegation to persuade the alleged victim not to go through with the charges, offering her tempting alternatives.
The title is a reference to the pedestrian-crossing signal at a set of traffic lights. To say more would be to take away a “eureka” moment in the play.
This re-staging of the production is helmed by Malcolm Purkey, who is now in the director’s chair, and stars a cast made up of Litha Bam, Michelle Douglas, Kate Liquorish, Sechaba Morojele and David Dennis. The production is designed by Denis Hutchinson and with costumes by Margo Fleish.
Purkey said that the first time he interacted with the production was when he was the artistic director of the Market Theatre in 2005.
“The play was my start as an artistic director. It was the first major play I put on to the stage. It was very important for me to get it, because I believed it set the tone for how I wanted my time at the Market Theatre to be.
“It’s an extraordinary play that’s emotional and politically charged. It deals with very important questions about the public good, the question of rape, violence, of the new ANC government coming to power and consolidating power. All of these are interwoven in the text,” Purkey said.
“What is extraordinary about Green Man Flashing is that it is still very on the nose about what is currently happening politically.”
Purkey said the production was evidence of Van Graan’s ability to reflect in his work the real stories and the mood of the time. He said that while every director’s style would differ, his was largely oriented to keeping the work as faithful to the text as possible.
Owing to Green Man Flashing being a set work for high school pupils under the Independent Examination Board, very minor tweaks have been made to the work.
About the cast, he said: “It has been a great pleasure working together, and they just lifted it to another level. It’s only once you see them that you’ll be able to appreciate how extraordinary they are.”
“Two of them have done it before. In the case of Michelle Douglas, she’s now much closer to the right age for the production. With Sechaba (Morojele), he portrays a beautiful villain.
“I’m very fortunate that David Dennis, who’s currently the head of Afda’s Live Performance, plays inspector Abrahams. He’s a fantastic actor to work with. It’s my first time working with him and it’s been a great pleasure to watch a really professional skill and procedure of character-building that he takes on,” Purkey said.
Purkey said people who had not seen Green Man Flashing should do so.
“They should come if they love theatre, they should come if they’re interested in the current political climate and they should come if they want to see beautiful actors working very well together,” he said.
“They should come if they are interested in the challenges of post-modernism and realism mixed together .”
* Green Man Flashing opens tonight at the Theatre on the Square in Sandton. Tickets are available from Computicket.