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Review: Suddenly the Storm

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Suddenly The StormAfter taking 3 awards at the Naledi Theatre Awards this year, Suddenly the Storm brings its talented crew to the Baxter stage for dark secrets to get unveiled on dark and stormy nights.

The first thing that is noteworthy about this play is visible even before the lights go on: an incredibly detailed set by Greg King reveals the old and grimy belly of an East Rand metal workshop. As the first waves of Highveld thunder rattles the zinc plates of the roof, scriptwriter and lead character Dwayne (Paul Slabolepszy) stumbles into his workshop, out of breath, clutching a blood-stained baseball bat in his hands. Immediately, there is a sense of secrets untold. Of darkness. Of events that can’t be undone.

Suddenly the Storm is a truly South African story, with an authentic Springs poppieShanell – “with an S”- played by Charmaine Weir-Smith. Her grating East Rand accent and over the top flooziness adds equal amounts of comic relief and tension to the story line, and is even more evident as Namhla (Renate Suurman) juxtaposes Shanell’s stereotypical airheadedness with her calm and controlled demeanor. A tense dialogue between Shanell and Namhla reveals more of Dwayne’s dark past. Tongues are loosened by Shanell’s fondness for daytime white wine, and the weight of things unsaid becomes heavy enough to for cracks to start showing in what seems like an innocuous business deal.

Though the play leans heavily on the bitter wounds left over from apartheid, this narrative does not get consumed by a repeat of past sins. Through an unexpected revelation there is reconciliation and, for at least two families, the burden lightens a little bit. The story is one of people damaged by truth and lies woven into their lives, but it leaves the audience with a glimmer of hope.

Marilu Snyders

Suddenly the Storm is on at the Baxter Theatre until 8 July 2017. 

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