It’s no surprise that it won a Naledi Award. I have no doubt it will win more. Brothers in Blood – an emotional rollercoaster of heart-pounding, soul-moving drama – is a story everyone needs to see; a tale of perception, culture, truth and the devastating consequences of misunderstandings.
Written by Mike van Graan, Brothers in Blood deals with relations between Jews, Muslims and Christians in the city of Cape Town, during an especially uneasy time of gang wars and news programmes laced with reports featuring PAGAD (People Against Gangsterism and Drugs). Van Graan’s motivation, he says, was to “explore the human dimension in religious or cultural conflicts, to portray the ‘other’ as fully rounded, complex human beings with similar hopes, dreams and fears as ours”.
The play follows the story of five individuals: devout Muslim, Abubaker (David Dennis), his less devout daughter Leila (Aimee Valentine), her friend Fadiel Suleiman, an immigrant fromSomalia(Harrison Makubalo), Reverend Lionel Fredericks (Kurt Egelhof) and Jewish doctor, Brian Cohen (Conrad Kemp).
Each of these characters has suffered some great pain or loss in their lives and each has innate perceptions or developed prejudices of ‘others’: prejudices that invariably determine their actions and reactions. The paths of the five characters cross, their lives intertwine and their fates are determined by their faith, their prejudice and their humanity. The 80-minute play starts off warm and by the end the words, the performances and the air between everyone is boiling.
Directed by Greg Homann, every nuance of emotion and each tiny message is absorbed, utterly immersing the audience throughout. Whether it’s the music, the lighting or the wonderful set sculpture that stands as a monolithic metaphor to premeditated perceptions of the ‘other’ through the press, every detail has been perfected.
The actors must all be commended for their performances, each one more captivating than the next, but special mention has to be made of Naledi winner David Dennis’ performance which at times seems to shatter the very air.
Brothers in Blood should be prescribed reading. It’s eye-opening, it’s brilliant, it’s a must see for anyone with a heart beat.
by Faheem Abrahams
Brothers in Blood runs at the Artscape Arena until 14 April 2012.