‘Blonde Poison’ invites the audience to confront their own humanity

Fiona Ramsay plays Stella Goldschlag in ‘Blonde Poison.’ Picture: Supplied.

Fiona Ramsay plays Stella Goldschlag in ‘Blonde Poison.’ Picture: Supplied.

Published Jun 12, 2024


Hot on the heels of its London theatre success, the gripping production of “Blonde Poison”, starring leading South African actress, Fiona Ramsay, will be staged in Cape Town from this week.

She featured in the production of “Hansard” at The Baxter Theatre last year, which was nominated for three Fleur du Cap Awards, including Best Performance by a Lead Actress in a Play.

Ramsay will now take the lead in this captivating one-person show, which was the first play by South African playwright Gail Louw, who now lives in the UK, wrote.

“Blonde Poison” was directed by multi-award-winning director Fred Abrahamse and the set was designed by the renowned Marcel Meyer.

Taking place against the backdrop of the Holocaust, the play is a morality tale about beauty, treachery and the high price of survival in a world beset with mistrust, espionage and duplicity.

“It encourages us to confront our own humanity and the choices we make when threatened with certain deportation, possible displacement, vicious persecution and the horrors of war,” explained Ramsay, who portrays the character of Stella Goldschlag.

Goldschlag was dubbed the Marilyn Monroe of Berlin and awarded the alias “Blonde Poison” by the Gestapo, Nazi Germany’s infamous political police force.

Ramsay added that her character lived illegally in war-torn Berlin during World War II, where she was betrayed, beaten and tortured.

But when she was offered the chance of saving herself and her parents from the death camps, she became a “greifer” or “catcher” for the Gestapo, giving information and “ratting” on the Jews in hiding.

The character goes from a beloved daughter to a pitiless betrayer of friends and from a gentle lover to a woman of depraved and decadent promiscuity.

Decades after the war, she agrees to an interview with a childhood friend, who is by then a respected journalist, who offers her a chance at redemption.

“Despite the choices Stella made, she forces the audience to confront their own humanity, raising questions of ethical and moral choice and acknowledging the cruelty that resides within us all,” producers added.

The production received rave reviews when it was staged at The Playground Theatre in London in March.

Victoria Ashford from A Young(ish) Perspective said: “Fiona Ramsay’s performance of Stella is captivating. She takes the audience on a roller-coaster of highs and lows during an encapsulating moment in history.”

Where: The Baxter Theatre in Rondebosch.

When: Currently on until June 29 at 8pm with Saturday matinees at 3pm.

Cost: Tickets start from R145 and are available through Webtickets or at Pick n Pay stores. For discounted block bookings, email [email protected] or call 021 680 3972. Alternatively, email [email protected] or call 021 680 3993.

Cape Town Opera’s Brittany Smith and Lukhanyo Moyake star in ‘Lucia di Lammermoor.’ Picture: Gary van Wyk.

“Lucia di Lammermoor”

As part of Cape Town Opera’s 25th anniversary celebrations, Gaetano Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” will be presented at the Artscape theatre from this weekend.

Directed by Cape Town Opera’s (CTO) co-founder and honorary patron Professor Angelo Gobbato and with Kamal Khan conducting the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, this stage production is set to enthral both seasoned opera enthusiasts as well as newcomers.

With its tale of love, betrayal and madness, the opera remains as relevant today as it was when it first premiered in 1835.

“From the soaring melodies of the famous Mad Scene to the intricate ensemble numbers, ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’ is filled with raw emotion and musical brilliance, a true testament to Donizetti’s genius and to the enduring power of this thrilling art form,” producers said.

At the heart of the production lies the tragic heroine Lucia, played by Brittany Smith, who recently won a Fleur du Cap Theatre Award for her portrayal of Maria in “The Sound of Music.”

The rest of the cast is a stellar line-up of CTO’s acclaimed performers, including fellow Cape Town Opera House soloists Lukhanyo Moyake as Edgardo and Conroy Scott as Enrico.

Asisipho Petu and Julia Portela Piñón play Alisa and Lonwabo Mose takes on the role of Raimondo. Van Wyk Venter stars as Normanno and guest artist Sakhumzi Martins sings Arturo.

It is fitting that the CTO has come full circle by having Gobbato return to direct this production, having first directed “Lucia di Lammermoor” back in 1997, two years before the company was officially established as a non-profit entity.

Set designer Michael Mitchell has given this production a more present feel, as opposed to the typical Scottish Highlands setting.

“The overall look and feel of the set and costumes is modern and contemporary, with Mitchell drawing inspiration from couturier Alexander McQueen for Lucia’s wedding dress,” producers said.

“Lucia di Lammermoor” is only for those over the age of 16.

Where: The Artscape Opera House in Foreshore.

When: There will be five performances from Friday, June 14, to Sunday, June 23, with matinees at 3pm and evening shows at 7pm. The show on Sunday, June 16 will be at 3pm and will be a black-tie affair to officially mark CTO’s birthday and will include a post-show celebration with wine, champagne and canapés for all attendees.

Cost: Tickets range from R215 to R750, and R900 for the June 16 birthday bash. For all shows, except on June 16, there are discounts available for senior citizens.

Tickets are available through Webtickets or by calling 021 421 7695.