Robyn Paterson’s solo show, The South Afreakins, takes you into Gordon and Helena’s world. A powerful piece, questioning irrational fear and the pursuit for happiness.
Paterson excels stepping into society’s idea of masculine and contrasting that with the feminine role. Who fits in where? is challenged – and whilst the couple tackle their grief, race and prejudice are brought to the forefront.
It is the actions and belief of both characters that Paterson encompasses whilst questioning Helena’s attitude towards her home country, a country that to this day, has its segregation issues. Impi theatre company, after their run at the Edinburgh fringe, have been invited to the Vaults Festival. It runs till 19th Feb and is highly recommended.
Helena and Gordon live alone in a farm. In the back garden, a tree grows embodying the spirit of their deceased son, Steve, shot after an altercation with a black South African. Steve’s parents vow to not let fear repeat history.
Helena, aims to live by her husband’s moral standards yet in constant suspicion of their maid and jumping at every car behind hers in the street, letting go of past tragedy seems impossible. Bit by bit, the couple’s bickering results in their migration to a retirement community in New Zealand.
Helena succeeds in making friends and living without a maid. Month by month, reluctant Gordon becomes accustomed to this very different lifestyle. Upon hearing about a close friend’s heart attack, Gordon returns home, whilst Helena’s thoughts are kept from the audience. But one can imagine: what dies the lady who is uncomfortable sitting next to a black stranger feel about her husband’s return to South Africa?
Unfortunate circumstances soon arise and Helena is forced to choose whether her new life is worth abandoning her past, therefore questioning whether one can one truly escape and live the dream?
Paterson’s performance cannot be praised enough; not once do you question which individual is speaking. She accommodates each aspect of both characters, whilst tackling the greatest bias of our time: racial.
The South Afreakins is a play on race and the focus on irrational fear raises vital questions, instead of labelling any seen or unseen characters as racist. However, with focus on irrational fear, Helena’s mind-set is not revealed. Is her reaction due to her son’s death, or is it early childhood memories? Why is it that Gordon is far from fearful, yet chooses to remain married to a bigot? And, one last question, is Helena an actual bigot?
Overall between the production team and Paterson, a play about fear and racial bias is brought to the Vaults Festival and they have impressed with their deliverance.
Taking advantage of the full stage, you discover two different personalities that have suffered one tragedy. Helena and Graham are your next door neighbours. Without interaction, fear can only grow.