Natasha Sutherland and Jessica Wolhuter in Brutal Legacy. Photo: Philip Kuhn.

History has a weird tendency of repeating itself.

This was the saying that kept moving around in my head as I watch Natasha Sutherland’s stage adaptation of Tracy Going’s Memoir, Brutal Legacy.

Sharing that title, Brutal Legacy sees Sutherland and Jessica Wolhuter take on the role of Tracy at different stages in her life, mainly during that fateful 1997 trial and present day. It combines succinctly in 75 min, the life story of the television and radio broadcaster. From growing up on a small holding in Brits to fulfilling her lifelong dream of being on television, and then having that picture dented by being in an abusive relationship.

When we walked into the perfectly chilled Theatre on the Square, Simphiwe Dana was singing softly through the speakers, almost hauntingly about an extremely violent situation in Mkhonto. I should have seen this as a precursor to what would be a deeply emotional evening filled with acting so believable it felt real.  At one point, the tension in the theatre was so thick, you would need a chainsaw to get through it.

What makes the production equally timely is the themes that run in it. At the moment, the country is grappling with issues of intimate partner violence, and in as much as this is historically based, it speaks directly to this issue. What was also slightly uncomfortable was having to deal with the impact the media had on how ultimately the trial went. As a journalist, it was definitely food for thought.

The production is sensitive, it holds no punches and it is honest. 

It is, as the programme suggests, searing, heartbreaking and triumphant. I certainly do not regret the hour I spent in the theatre watching this.

* Visit the Theatre on the Square to see details of the show.