On Saturday, 23 March, I was blessed to attend the stage production of Shirley, Goodness and Mercy by my friend and author Chris van Wyk. Acclaimed director Janice Honeyman adapted and directed the play. There was some tension in the air as most of the people audience was made up of people from Riverlea, a Coloured township south-west of Johannesburg. And since this play is a memoir, set in Riverlea, its very, very personal matter to most people attending.
The play was first screened in Cape Town before coming to Johannesburg where it is actually set. Chris had generously offered me a extra ticket and I didn’t hesitate to accept. I was laughing from beginning to end at the witty dialogue between the characters, the funny moments, the inside jokes, the amazing depth of the story and how it relates to me, also a boy growing up in a world where Apartheid didn’t exist until I well into my teenage years and more so when I completed high school and went to study further at University. Being exposed to people from other races in South Africa brings the legacy of Apartheid in your face. Chris van Wyk strikes a wonderful balance between slapstick and seriousness.
Shirley, Goodness and Mercy has been described as nostalgic by some critics. Without repeating what has already been said before I want to leave with this comparison:
This is a wonderful story of childhood innocence. It is a story that runs deep into the veins of Apartheid, South Africa. Like in the film Life is Beautiful, the childhood innocence overcomes the struggle, the reality, the harshness of oppression. And like most of the best stories ever told, the is also a story of a boy and a girl who fall in love. Here’s some photos I took of Chris van Wyk and Janice Honeyman, and also Chris with some family outside the Market Theatre, Johannesburg.
If you are very, very curious about what has been said before please the following reviews:
Book now for Shirley, Goodness and Mercy at Market Theatre, Johannesburg. Its running from Friday, 23 March to 13 May 2007.