Woordfees: Wild

March 9, 2018

’n Polisieman ontdek ’n jong vrou wat deur honde grootgemaak is en probeer haar help. Sy pogings lei tot die oopkrap van ’n ou stuk geskiedenis. Die produksie is deel van die US Woordfees en kaartjies is by Computicket beskikbaar.


When a policeman (Albert Pretorius) finds a feral woman (Tinarie van Wyk Loots) on the outskirts of a small town and tries to solve the mystery of who she is, the past starts intruding on the present first in small drips, and later in a flood. The play, written and directed by Philip Rademeyer, starts as this policeman carries the woman’s limp figure into a large cage, lays her down, and carefully starts washing and dressing her unconscious body. The long silence during this opening scene creates a more ominous, brooding atmosphere than any musical score could have.


Once the woman wakes up inside her new cage, the arduous work starts: Her keeper is going to try to tame this wild animal that can’t help but lash out violently. The ensuing process draws the audience in completely.


Van Wyk Loots is utterly convincing as a woman who’s had minimal human contact. She snarls, bites, barks, and moves in an undeniably canine fashion, and her energetic, frenetic performance is entirely unforgettable. One finds oneself at once mesmerised by her rhythmic rocking against the bars of her cage, and disturbed by the small, sad whimpers that emanate from her core. 

Pretorius’s character strikes a rather pitiable figure at first as he tries and fails to get his new pet to play with him, but soon commands more respect as he starts making progress with the taming project and decides to delve into the woman’s mysterious past. ‘Everything needs a name; how would we know it otherwise?’ his character asks as he becomes more and more consumed by his mammoth task.


Enter a woman (Joanie Combrink) who used to live in the small town and could potentially shed some light on the identity of the woman in the cage. Once she hears the whole story, Combrink’s strong-willed, tightly-wound character sounds almost envious of the wild woman’s moment-to-moment existence. The etiquette lesson this newcomer attempts to make the other woman sit through is tragically funny, while her attempts to prettify the younger woman evoke an almost protective response from the audience (who have been on the caged woman’s side since the very beginning).


This play raises some difficult questions about the nature of civilisation and humanity, and the inhuman things people are capable of doing to others in the name of civilisation. Watching this is not a comfortable experience by any means, but it’s one that should be had by as many people as possible.


Wild can be seen as part of the US Woordfees on the 10th of March. Tickets are available through Computicket or at the door.


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