Citizens of nowhere: A Lesson From Aloes @Finborough

Relationships and friendships can be fragile. Like democracy and freedom. In a world falling apart to paranoia and suspicion, the only thing that grows in this barren land are little pots of aloe. In A Lesson From Aloes at the Finborough, it's 1960s South Africa. In a dreary Port Elizabeth suburb, Piet (David Minnaar) and Gladys (Janine Ulfane) are waiting for Steve and his family to visit. But the guests are late and for good reason.

There’s suspicion that Piet turned informer which saw Steve imprisoned and interrogated. Shunned by their old friends, and under observation by the police, their world has collapsed. All that is left for Piet are his precious little plants of Aloe growing in their pots. And for Gladys what is lost is more than political discussion.

By the time Steve (David Rubin) shows up there's a power keg ready to blow up. He's leaving South Africa after being granted an exit permit. A one-way ticket out of the country which strips him and his family of South African citizenship. He's heading for Britain and trying to pack of the pieces of his life up.

It‘s a sharp and incisive play that often feels like it's a mystery or thriller. It's helped by a great cast and fast-paced direction and claustrophobic design.

Playwright Athol Fugard wrote the piece over forty years ago about the crackdowns and harassment of those who either resisted the apartheid regime or wanted to leave it. It's receiving its first London premiere in over 35 ears.

This passing of time gives space to think more about how the themes about home, identity and belonging still seem relevant today.

Directed by Janet Suzman, A Lesson From Aloes is at the Finborough Theatre until 23 March.


Photos by Alixandra Fazzina

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