The Sewing Machine

Rachelle Greeff, translated by Hennie van Greunen

Assembly George Square

From 01 August 2012 to 27 August 2012

Rating: ****

Review by Philip Fisher

This deceptively simple tale turns out to be really moving. It wins audiences over, at least in part thanks to an outstanding performance from Sandra Prinsloo under the direction of Hennie van Greunen.

Miss Prinsloo plays octogenarian Magdaleen, a well-to-do Boer who has seen it all. Initially, it doesn’t sound as if anything has happened to the old lady or her 55-year-old symbolic sewing machine, but gradually we discover that being a mother and wife can be pretty exciting.

Her husband was a Dutch-African religious tyrant, which meant constant battles with their quartet of modernising children.

In fact, most of the heartache comes from the twins, a rebellious girl and a boy who becomes a doctor but struggles to live up to the family’s expectations, never marrying and dying some two decades before we meet his elderly mum in her care home.

Slyly, playwright and actor tell us a great deal about South African life from a perspective that can get ignored these days when most of the focus is on the African communities.