Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

29 May 2014

South Africa: Theatre - a Vigil You'll Want to Keep

analysis

It may be a play about death, but Vigil - which is so universal it's been translated into nearly 20 languages - is a play pulsing with life.

It's hard to say which of the two characters we meet on stage in Vigil is the better actor: The man who rarely shuts up as he laments his sad and lonely life, or the woman who barely speaks, but says volumes in a disapproving thin-lipped scrunch.

You have to conclude that the pair are both superb, then sit back and enjoy this immensely entertaining piece of theatre that makes us laugh about death.

Vigil by Morris Panych is such a universal story that it's been translated into 19 languages. That must have been a doddle for the role of Grace, a dying aunt who mainly communicates in sighs, grunts and body language. Vanessa Cooke is superb in the role, with a face that can silently condemn or forgive more eloquently than a sentence ever could.

She has a lot to endure with Kemp, her misfit nephew who arrives to make sure that the aunt who was disappointingly absent in his life finally abandons him for good.

Graham Hopkins...

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