Undone Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Wordsmith's Theatre Factory and Assembly
Wessel Pretorius (writer and director), Hennie van Greunen (translator)
Wessel Pretorius
Running time

An intense esoteric tapestry of old and new.

Undone is the result of research by South African writer Wessel Pretorius when he needed a final project for his Masters exam at the University of Stellenbosch. Searching the annals for a piece of solo theatre that would be a vehicle for his love of theatre, his speaking skills and his intense physicality, he came up with this story of a boy’s journey from childhood to adulthood in a dysfunctional family. It was originally written and performed in Pretorius’ native Afrikaans.

Pretorius sits naked in a tin hip bath, soaping himself as the play begins. Vulnerable still, wearing only pants and a string of pearls and the occasional donning of a leather jacket, he takes the audience through the complex maze that is his family dynamics from mother, father and brother. He uses minimal props of an old brass speakered gramophone and travel trunk with the back of the set being just a couple of rows of cardboard boxes.

His narration takes the form of a heightened prose poem that is at times a torrential outpouring exposing various vagaries. While the piece is very emotional, it feels harsh, angry and very male. Within this he is all the while all the while performing the mime of make- up donning and nail- buffing diva as he toys with the male and female roles.

The text that weaves in many references to Dionysus is deep and at times incomprehensible but is nonetheless an amazing theatrical feat of intense and exquisite physicality.

The final piece of music, Puccini’s beautiful Oh My Beloved Father, adds particular poignancy, love and understanding after the revelation of fatherly regrets. His statement towards the ends ‘with love I will make myself undone’ is a perfect summary to this unusual piece.

Show times

1– 26 Aug (not 12 Aug), 4.10pm

Ticket prices

£13 (£12/£11)

Suitability PG