The critically acclaimed Afrikaans play, “Die Moeder”, currently running at the Baxter Theatre is a remarkable story of love pays tribute to all mothers.
Directed by Christaan Olwagen, “Die Moeder” is a “compelling portrait of the empty nest syndrome” by award-winning playwright Florian Zeller, who also wrote “The Father”.
The film version of “The Father” won Academy Awards for Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins), and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Olwagen has translated the original work, “The Mother”, into Afrikaans (with English subtitles), and has transposed the events to contemporary South Africa.
Die “Moeder” stars thespians Sandra Prinsloo as Moeder and Dawid Minnaar, alongside seasoned performers Ashley de Lange and Charl Fölscher.
Prinsloo plays the role of Anna, who is unable to come to terms with the realisation that motherhood as she has known it, is over. Her children have grown up and have lives and loves of their own.
She spends hours alone and the world seems to tilt around her. Is her husband really having an affair? Did her favoured son really come home? Or has the loneliness driven Anna to madness?
Speaking to IOL Entertainment, Minnaar, who plays the role of Anna’s husband, says “Die Moeder” touches on universal themes of mental health and family dynamics.
Commenting on his role, Minaar says, “I play the character of a husband to The Mother. And the husband is a straightforward businessman and he’s trying to be supportive of his wife. He’s trying to understand what her concerns are, but he’s also a busy man.
“He is a long-suffering husband because he had to put up with her psychosis and suspicions that he is having affairs outside of their marriage.”
It’s not only her husband’s love that she is longing for, it’s her love for her son, who seemingly doesn’t care about his mother at all.
According to Minnaar, the main theme or focus of the play is the psychosis of the mother. The play also explores specifically and very strongly, the relationship between mother and son.
There is a daughter, but she is hardly ever mentioned, one gets the idea that the mother talks about her but she doesn’t even like her. We know very little about the daughter.
Anna sufferers from psychosis, which is a result of being a stay-at-home wife and also dealing with empty nest syndrome while the husband is busy with his career and she feels all alone.”
And all of a sudden, she’s sitting with a dilemma of her loneliness and an empty house and then she drinks and takes pills.
It’s a lot of stuff, what we see on stage… Some of it happens in her head, some of it is real and then the audience can get to decide what is her imagination and what is real.
“This play is very insightful and layered, Florian Zeller is a great writer and we’re also lucky to have Christian as the director because he adds his own unique vision to the narrative, some of it is not even in the play and it’s just added to the meaning complexity of the situation,” says Minnaar.
“Die Moeder” recently showcased at the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK) in Oudtshoorn and received rave reviews from festivalgoers.
Minnaar says the response from the audience was great, people were incredibly moved.
I was quite surprised by the reaction of the men in the play. And it made sense because every man is a son of a mother and it made a lot of people think a lot about their mothers, and the relationships they have with their mothers.
“The big take out here is don’t neglect the mother in your life, we mustn’t forget our mothers and there are so many of them that end up lonely and distanced from their children and it’s awful.”
“Die Moeder” is running at the Baxter Theatre until April 29.
Tickets are available at Webtickets from R160.
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