There’s a reason Grahamstown and surrounds is called Frontier country, and it’s not because it was a frontier. It’s because it still is.
There are times the history of these hills seeps into this ship called Daily Life at a rate that threatens to sink it.
Two cultures, divided by the Kowie ditch, continue, generations since they first met, to tread warily around one another, offering gestures of friendship and co-operation, making treaties that are only to be compromised by raids from the one side, exploitation from the other.
Having just been on the receiving end of a raid myself last night, I was still counting the cost as the curtain rose on the first showing of the highly anticipated Wreckage.
Reflected on stage was the very same seemingly everlasting struggle for mutual understanding which events had so recently illustrated, once again.
For although Wreckage is not directly about colonialism and its continuing legacy, it deals with same issues, just from a more original direction – from the water rather than the land.
This may have partly contributed to Wreckage providing me with the cerebral equivalent of having a whisky after waking up still half-pissed from the excesses of the night before.
I don’t think it was purely a result of my own domestic reminder of the ongoing struggle for mutual understanding along this particular frontier, however, I suspect Wreckage leaves its entire audience feeling a bit punch drunk.
Almost from the start, the blows come thick and fast. They are unrelenting. You are, after all, facing a collaboration of two heavyweights in the First Physical Theatre and Ubom! companies, and neither of them hold back.
Not only do you get First Physical’s intellectual roundhouse to the head, you get Ubom!’s Buckland speciality of a comedic left jab in the gut, combined with a touch of post-modern meta theatre as a dirty little headbutt to the frontal lobe. Their gloves are of course also unfairly weighted with that ever-present history.
There’s no holds barred and they come at you with all they’ve got. All you can do is reel with the punches and enjoy seeing the stars before your eyes.
What’s more, as a final coup de grace, after over three decades of appearing on stage, Andrew finally drops his shorts. That’s some history worth seeing, right there. –Steve Kretzmann