The latest staging of Fugard's heartbreaking Hello & Goodbye offers vintage Fugard at its best, with Stephen Jubber and Marlisa Doubell in top form under the commanding direction of Christopher Weare.
If there's one thing Weare does well, it's turn an ordinary theatre experience into an astonishing and intimate occasion you will remember long after you leave the theatre. It always amazes how Weare can miraculously turn a 40-seater theatre like the Alexander Upstairs into the stage, allowing the audience to become a part of the action; you can feel the tension of the action and breathe the vulnerable emotional turmoil of two dirt-poor white South Africans, an estranged brother and sister who meet again after 12 years in a worn-down house in Port Elizabeth in 1965.
From the moment Jubber enters the stage from his ailing father's bedroom, the tension is palpable and we are thrown into the world of a man imprisoned by remorse and guilt: Jubber's alluring performance of Johnny draws us into the mindscape of his character and will break your heart.
A tormented past that haunts her
His angst becomes clear when his older sister Hester appears, with Doubell superbly capturing the spirit of a woman equally imprisoned by a tormented past that haunts her.
If there's one aspect of Hello & Goodbye that captures the essence of what makes Fugard's text so intriguing, it's the deadly secret that drives the action and forces the characters to reveal their true selves.
When we learn that Hester heard the news of their father's failing health and returned home to collect her half of their inheritance, the battle is on and the kitchen becomes a war zone where the past and future collide head-on in an explosive exploration of greed, acidic lies and insincere affection.
Weare allows every moment of this superb production to draw us deeper into the mystery and intrigue, with Jubber and Doubell flawlessly forging an inseparable bond between their characters and the audience.
A soulful journey
If you are looking for theatre that is heartfelt and offers a soulful journey into the lives of ordinary South Africans, Hello & Goodbye guarantees a second viewing. It is fresh, invigorating and reflects the heartfelt passion of its performers and director. What more could any theatre-goer ask for? Don't miss it. Hello & Goodbye runs at the Alexander Upstairs, 76 Strand Street from the 13 to 25 October at 7pm. (except Sundays). Book securely online with a credit card for any show at Alexander Upstairs by going to shows.alexanderbar.co.za. You can also purchase tickets in person at the bar anytime during regular opening hours (Monday to Saturday, 11am to 1am). For telephone bookings and enquires, call +27 (0)21 300 1652.
For more information on Hello & Goodbye and other theatre shows, go to www.writingstudio.co.za. Photography by Samantha Pinto