Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act

Athol Fugard
TheatreArts Admin Collective
Assembly Hall

All too often in Edinburgh, one can become jaded and imagine that theatre which would seem second rate at home is extraordinary.

There is no risk of that with the current South African Season. Woza Albert! was a treat and, if it is possible to have something better than a 5* show, this is it.

Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act should have been a simple love story, had it been set somewhere other than the Cape in the mid-1960s.

Suddenly, a tender tale of passion between a middle-aged school principal and a librarian six years his senior becomes a courtroom drama. That is because while Bo Petersen as Frieda Joubert is a good, honest White woman, her lover played by Malefane Motshuli is Errol Philander, a Cape Coloured and as such, an outsider.

Under Apartheid, a mixed race affair was illegal, which made the bravery of their love akin to that of those robbing a bank.

The inevitability of disgrace neither spiced things up nor ended the affair. Nor did the guilt that adultery inevitably engenders finish things off, especially when both parties are highly intelligent.

There is also a subtext showing the inhumanity of laws that stop not only love but also intellectual endeavour, entirely as a result of skin colour.

This production, directed by Kim Kerfoot for the TheatreArts Admin Collective, captures both the tenderness and the fear of such a relationship. The whole builds through a court case to an impassioned speech by Philander, that could almost have been borrowed from Shylock, such is its power in defence of humanity.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher

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