14 February 2014

South Africa: Volunteer Man - a Witty, Harrowing Look At Death and Dying


Maybe when you know that time is running out, everything you do needs to be done much quicker. Perhaps that's partly why the exchanges between a dying man and his visitor in Volunteer Man are delivered at such a death-defying pace.

The same can be said of their verbal sparring, with uncomfortable questions delivered in flares of anger and answers flung back in brief, embarrassed timidity.

Volunteer Man is a play featuring the encounters between Melvin (Michael Gamliel), a tough young man dying of Aids and Adam (Roy Horovitz), the volunteer visiting him in hospital.

The script is funny, stirring, challenging and sad, yet many of their barbed lines and increasingly bold retorts were lost through their over-rapid delivery.

Argument and attack is naturally heated, but when the content and nuances of the script are diminished, a slightly less garbled pace would improve the production immeasurably.

That said, Horovitz and Gamliel are both superb in this script by Dan Clancy, who also wrote the excellent play The Timekeepers, which Horovitz brought to South Africa in 2010.

Volunteer Man raises provocative questions that lead ultimately to the end game - would you help somebody to commit suicide?

Gamliel ...

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