Press: 'Die reuk van appels' to premiere in Cape Town at the Fugard

September 28, 2017

Following the runaway success of a national tour, the award-winning play Die reuk van appels has its Cape Town premiere at the Fugard Studio Theatre. It will be presented from 17 October until 11 November, performed in Afrikaans with English surtitles.

Die reuk van appels is the acclaimed 1993 debut novel of South African author Mark Behr. Presented by Theatrerocket Productions and adapted for the stage by Johann Smith, it stars Gideon Lombard (...miskien, The View, Special Thanks to Guests from Afar, Orpheus in Africa, Suidooster), and is directed by Lara Bye (Yellowman, London Road, Oscar en die Pienk Tannie, Vaslav).

The production premiered at the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK) this year, with Lombard winning the Best Actor Award at the 2017 Kanna Awards for his role as Marnus. A seasoned and popular stage actor, Die reuk van appels marks Gideon’s debut solo performance in a play.

Die reuk van appels is the coming-of-age story of Marnus Erasmus, 11-year-old son of a South African Defence Force (SADF) general. It eloquently captures the Afrikaner mentality in the late 1970s and early 1980s and the brutal consequences of apartheid and militarisation of South African life.

Upon publication and subsequent translation into English (as The Smell of Apples
) that same year, this landmark Afrikaans novel catapulted Behr into the ranks of young and talented dissident voices such as Etienne van Heerden and Koos Prinsloo (Tony Eprile, New York Times). Before his untimely death on 27 November 2015, Behr was a professor of creative writing at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.

“Since reading the novel for the first time, I have dreamt of producing Die reuk van appels for the stage,” says Johan van der Merwe, co-founder of Theatrerocket Productions. “When I teamed up with Rudi Sadler to create Theatrerocket, it was an obvious choice for our first venture as a production company.

Die reuk van appels is a seminal work and a powerful, moving exploration of some of the consequences of our history. We are honoured to have two of the country’s most respected theatre makers, director Lara Bye and actor Gideon Lombard, to bring the story to life on stage,” says van der Merwe.

Adapted from the book by Johann Smith, Lighting Design for the play is by Kosie Smit with Gideon Lombard, also a talented musician, responsible for the Sound Design.

The rave review press comments have included:

“Die gehoor volg die elfjarige Marnus (Gideon Lombard) as jong skool seun en sy onskuldige avonture saam met sy beste maat Frikkie tot met sy tyd as troe paan die grens. Lombard handhaaf al die karakters uitstekend. Die regisseur Lara Bye se aanvoeling en die teksverwerker Johann Smith se snitte aan die roman sorgvir ’n deurgangsrite wat die teaterganger lei van onskuld tot verskrikking."
Laetitia Pople, Die Burger

“Lombard oorrompel algeheel as die jong Marnus wat met sy netjiese voorkoms – die kouse word kort-kort tot onder die knieë opgetreken die skoolhemp reggepluk om die skouers – en onbeskroomde vertellings die gehoor deel maak van sy wel en wee.”
Marina Griebenow, Krit 2017

“…the story is skilfully massaged to keep the audience hooked…..With the seemingly gentle script with brutally dark undertones, a searingly sensitive performance by Lombard and Bye’s brilliantly sculptured direction, it is powerful theatre that both illuminates and pummels you emotionally.”
Diane de Beer, De Beer Necessities

“Astutely directed and simply brilliantly performed… It takes a truly remarkable team of performers and creative people to take something as earth-shatteringly powerful as this in a novel, and to bring it to stage...”
Robyn Sassen, My view

Die reuk van appels, masterfully adapted by Johann Smith, is not a political reminiscence. It is a devastating expose of human tragedy.” Pinto Ferreira, Tonight - Pretoria News / The Star

Die reuk van appels is ontroerende teater wat verpletter, en wat die staande applous – ná ’n oomblik van verbysterende ongeloof en gehoorstomheid – verdien!”
Christiaan J de Swardt, Litnet

“Gideon Lombard is onverbeterlik, met briljante karakterisering van ‘n jong man wat besig is om in homself in te groei. Ouer akteurs wat jong outjies speel se volwassenheid slaan dikwels deur, maar Lombard s’n is in die perfekte sleutel. Sy vertolking is altyd dapper en vreesloos, en Lombard verdien al die lof wat hom toegeswaai is.”
Leon van Nierop, Artslink

“It’s an extraordinary production, a traumatic piece of theatre. I was deeply moved by it.”
Michelle Constant, SAfm

“A stunningly sensitive adaptation. Actor Gideon Lombard delivers a bravura one-man performance.”

Miles Keylock, Cue

Age restriction: 16 (sex, nudity, strong language, violence and prejudice)

Die reuk van appels will run at the Fugard Studio Theatre from 17 October to 11 November, Tuesdays to Saturdays at 8pm with a 4pm matinee performance on Saturdays. The Fugard Theatre is situated in the heart of District Six, on the corner of Harrington and Caledon Streets, Cape Town.

Tickets for the previews and on Tuesday cost R130; Wednesdays R155 and Thursday to Saturdays tickets cost R165.

Bookings can be made through Computicket on 0861 915 8000, online at or at any Shoprite Checkers outlet. Bookings can also be made at the Fugard Theatre box office on 021 461 4554. There is a generous 15% discount available for the Friends of the Fugard members.

Harrington Street car park is located at the corner of Caledon and Harrington streets and is available for the use of theatre patrons. Visit the cosy ground-floor bar, which opens two hours before all scheduled show times and stays open until last rounds are called… often as late as 1am. And if the weather is fine the bar on the fantastic rooftop terrace is opened, with its panoramic views of the city. Both bars offer a range of wines from some of the Cape’s top estates.


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