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The Train Driver
Set in a makeshift graveyard with graves marked only by items of rubbish, Simon Hanabe (Owen L Sejake) digs the graves and buries those who have no one to claim them. It is here that Roelf Visagle (Sean Taylor) comes to find the grave of the woman and her child who walked into the path of the train he was driving. The images of this woman have haunted him, and refused to let him go. The metaphor, present in much writing coming out of South Africa, asks questions about what has happened to this nation under the rule of the white man.
Fugard directs as well as writidx this poetic, sad, slow piece brimming with South African vernacular. It is touching and the helplessness of both races is evident. The events develop in an apocryphal way and the resulting tragedy is that the authorities take away Simon's spade and without this tool he is unable to work and scrape the living he once had. It is the law of unintended consequences, a small tragedy.
The performances are brilliant. Sean Taylor as the driver racked with the repetition in his mind of the accident and Owen Sejake as the grave digger, a large man, doing what he has to do to survive and yet wanting to help Roelf find his own peace.
Designer's Saul Radomsky's very detailed and natural looking set of the sandy graveyard and the shack where Simon lives, shows how little this man has. Mannie Martin's lighting creates early morning light and night time atmosphere as Simon shares what he has with the white man. The Train Driver will not appeal to everybody with its detailed examination of humanity in this wasteland because it is more about thoughts than action.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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