Stage: Fordsburg’s Finest – Playhouse Loft, Durban
Final performances are at 6.30pm today (Saturday, December 3) and 2.30pm tomorrow (Sunday, December 4).
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
STRONG, nuanced and affecting performances by the legendary Paul Slabolepszy and striking, Zimbabwean-born actress Chi Mhende, make this revival of Slabolepszy’s 1997 play a must-see at Durban’s Playhouse Loft, where, sadly, it is booked in for only two more performances.
So get your tickets quickly (they cost only R100) and spread the word, as this is a truly captivating and still-relevant drama that is well worth seeing!
Fordsburg’s Finest focuses on the icy, but slowly thawing, interaction between ‘Foxie’ Freddie, an ageing, white, used-car salesman with a smile, swagger and silly bowtie, and Thandi, a sophisticated black American he meets when she visits his tacky Fordsburg car lot, which now occupies the land where her family home once stood.
Thandi’s father, a musician, left the country with his wife and the 10-month-old Thandi in 1959, under the growl of apartheid, and she is back in South Africa after many decades to try to reconnect with her roots and her family’s past.
Conversation between these two very different characters moves from polite to strained and explosive as each starts to slowly peel back layers to reveal a commonality in their differing experiences under apartheid, and as a result of it. Each reveals personal struggle, pain, frustration, anger and fragility.
It ends on a powerful, ambiguous note with a fade-out accompanied by Bright Blue’s Weeping, that had me thinking about the play for some time after leaving the theatre.
Under director Bobby Heaney’s careful direction, the performances and chemistry between the performers are top-notch and, as usual with Slabolepszy’s writing, dialogue is credible and often crackles with mirth.
Performed over close to 90 minutes without an interval, the drama unfolds on another marvellous set by Durban’s Greg King, of KickstArt. Depicting Freddie’s office on the lot, complete with illuminated signage and party lights, this cleverly conceived set simultaneously shows the detailed office interior and garden area.
Tickets cost only R100 for this production which received a standing ovation on opening night in Durban, following great success in Gauteng. Final performances are at 6.30pm today (Saturday, December 3) and 2.30pm tomorrow (Sunday, December 4). Booking is at WebTickets.