‘The Wild must stay outside,’ a scared old woman announces to her granddaughter in Wynne Bredenkamp’s At the Edge of the Light. The young woman this warning is directed at has fled to her grandmother’s seaside house in hopes of finding refuge there, but soon discovers that things won’t be that easy, as Gran (Margot Wood) has retreated within herself and is desperately trying to keep long-feared demons at bay.
As tends to be the case with demons, Gran’s won’t be ignored. Enter Emma Kotze’s Creature, a scraggly apparition that crawls on to the stage and writhes in the sand that covers the set, striking terror into Gran’s heart (and keeping the audience transfixed) with her animalistic movements. Sarah Grace Potter’s portrayal of the central character, Girl, is compelling and rings especially true during moments of intense conflict and emotion. Her restrained approach is spellbinding, and she deftly builds the pace in places where the at times poetic piece’s energy threatens to start flagging.
Andrew Laubscher’s Father character bursts on to the scene in the final act and shatters the uneasy peace the two women have tried to maintain. Laubscher manages to turn asking for a cup of tea into a menacing act, and his character’s savage mockery of his mother’s stories is delectably nauseating.
During an argument with her granddaughter, Gran mutters that ‘stories keep back the dark’. She’s right, of course: It’s only by telling our own uncomfortable stories that we can find our way back to the light. This production dares to light a torch in the suffocating darkness of family secrets, and in the process may illuminate more than just its own skeletons.
At the Edge of the Light, written and directed by Wynne Bredenkamp, can be seen at the Alexander Bar as part of the Cape Town Fringe Festival on the 23rd and 24th of September, and again on the 3rd, 4th, 7th, and 8th of October.