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PRESS: Award-winning The Unlikely Secret Agent returns for run at Baxter ahead of tour

Christine Skinner


The Fleur du Cap Theatre Award-winning and multiple-nominated production THE UNLIKELY SECRET AGENT will be performed for a limited season from 20 to 29 October in the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio.

There will be a Q and A session with Ronnie Kasrils after the performance on Sunday 23 October.

The run offers a last chance for Cape Town audiences to catch this critically acclaimed play ahead of its plans for a national and international tour. Comments about the production have included ‘an insightful and thoughtful glimpse into the story of an extraordinary woman’ (Theatre Scene Cape Town); ‘powerful performances…an engrossing piece of theatre’ (The Cape Robyn) and ‘in equal measures chilling and heart-warming….THE UNLIKELY SECRET AGENT truly is a must-see’ (Broadway World).

Based on Ronnie Kasrils’ Alan Paton Award-winning novel, THE UNLIKELY SECRET AGENT explores the brave journey of Eleanor, Kasrils’ wife and a clandestine agent for the Underground ANC, as she navigates her escape from Apartheid South Africa.

Presented by Unlikely Productions, the play was nominated for a total of eight Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards, with Paul du Toit winning Best Director. Du Toit also adapted the story for the stage.

Erika Marais was nominated for Best Actress for her portrayal of Eleanor Kasrils, with fellow cast members Gideon Lombard and Ntlanhla Morgan Kutu nominated for Best Supporting Actor Awards. Paul du Toit and Sanda Shandu were part of the original cast and were also nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor Awards respectively.

Multiple award-winning actor Carlo Daniels (Onweer; Klippies Van Die Grond; The Life And Times Of MIchael K) joins the cast for the run at the Baxter Theatre Centre, along with Gold Standard Bank Ovation Award winner Wessel Pretorius (Ont (Undone); Balbesit; Wie’s Bang vir Virginia Woolf?) in the role of Ronnie Kasrils.

Other Fleur du Cap Theatre Award nominations for the production include Daniel Galloway for Lighting Design and Jahn Beukes for Sound Design.

Set and Wardrobe Coordination as well as AV Design for the production is by Paul du Toit and Salene Bekker.

"Breaking free from Covid restrictions, as Eleanor did from police torture and detention, sees this riveting play being staged at the Baxter in Cape Town, travelling to London next year, with Scotland and Ireland a possibility. Her spirit once again soars like a bird to taunt the apartheid state, thanks to this brilliant adaptation of my book, superb direction and acting, that drew standing ovations at The Drama Factory in Somerset West - and I am over the moon. What expectations to savour!" says Ronnie Kasrils.

The story of this remarkable woman Eleanor Kasrils inspires and moves our audiences wherever we have performed this production,” says actress and founder of Unlikely Productions Erika Marais.

We are honoured to continue the journey of sharing her story, and delighted that Ronnie Kasrils will once again be able to join us for a Q&A after the performance on Sunday 23rd October. Paul’s script has also now been published, so audiences have the opportunity to take the play home with them!”.

Praise for the production has included:

an insightful and thoughtful glimpse into the story of an extraordinary woman, willing to put the struggle of others before her own survival.Barbara Loots, Theatre Scene Cape Town

in equal measures chilling and heart-warming….THE UNLIKELY SECRET AGENT truly is a must-see. It is a part of South African history that needs to be told and this play tells it so beautifully through a cast of talented and dedicated actors.’ Faeron Wheeler, Broadway World

it is about a remarkable woman who fought against the evils of the Apartheid regime to gain freedom for herself and thousands of others….acted out on stage with belief, courage and passion by the players…This play should be seen by everyone who looks to overthrow evil dictatorships…..A must for school children to learn and grow from their own history. Richard Loring

excellent …. Paul du Toit's brilliant adaptation of Ronnie Kasril's book about his beloved late wife, Eleanor, will remind you of theatre's power to stoke the imagination like nothing else on earth. It's an important story - a bit of our history conjured into a context that challenges and provokes and makes you laugh and then makes you cry….the ensemble is dazzling, the writing sparkles, the emotions are heartbreakingly real.’ Keith Bain

The Unlikely Secret Agent is a poignant evocation of the life of a woman of courage, evocatively framed and contextualised in the struggle for a democratic South Africa…. powerful performances…an engrossing piece of theatre’. Robyn Cohen, The Cape Robyn

What an extraordinary and original piece of theatre is The Unlikely Secret Agent - based on the book that Ronnie Kasrils wrote about his cherished wife Eleanor. What a heartwarming, if painful tribute and shocking reminder of a grim past. See it if you canNancy Richards, Woman Zone

an excellent play with excellent actors!’ Surene Esterhuizen, Happening News

The story: Eleanor, an unassuming, young single mother is arrested at Griggs Bookstore where she works in Durban and taken for questioning. The police are on the hunt for her lover, the notorious “terrorist”, Red Ronnie Kasrils. She finds herself detained under the 90-day detention act and brutally interrogated. They will “break her or hang her”. Written and directed by award winning actor and playwright, Paul du Toit and based on the Alan Paton Award winning book by Ronnie Kasrils, The Unlikely Secret Agent tells a true story of bravery and hope in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

It’s 1963, South Africa. The country is on a knife edge. Political protest, sabotage and violence has engulfed the country. Government forces of the Apartheid regime, under Hendrik Verwoerd, brutally suppress resistance. Under the State of Emergency, the feared Special Branch of the police arrest anyone suspected of being involved in underground activities. Ronnie is wanted for his involvement in a string of sabotage bombings of electricity pylons, the Durban post office and the offices of the Special Branch. There is no point in her resisting, the police “know everything”. But do they really? Eleanor is keeping a secret. She is a clandestine agent for the Underground ANC. But she must protect her comrades and Ronnie. She makes the daring decision to fake a nervous breakdown in order to be transferred to a psychiatric institution. From there, she begins to plot her escape.

The Unlikely Secret Agent will be performed from 20 to 29 October (except Monday 24th) in the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio.

Evening performance times are 20:00.

There will be matinee performances on Saturday 22 and 29th October at 14:00.

On Sunday 23 October the matinee at 15:00 will be followed by a Q and A session with Ronnie Kasrils after the performance.

Age restriction: PG14 – strong language, racial prejudice and gender-based violence

Tickets cost:

R130 (Early Bird Special, ends 30 September)

R160 (Senior Citizens, Students, Block Bookings of 10+)

R190 Full price

Booking is online through Webtickets or at Pick n Pay stores.

For discounted block or schools’ bookings, charities or fundraisers contact Carmen Kearns on email and Zinobulali Goduka on


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