One night, spread across a lifetime, reveals how the shift in dynamics between a man and woman can be the difference between love and violence in the touching and distressing Raak at the Woordfees.
Raak addresses issues of idenity, loss, and violence against women from the relationship perspective of the two characters in a troubled marriage. The focus is not directly and immediately on the issues that underlie the play, but rather reveals itself as gradually to the audience as it did through the lifetime of both the easily angered husband, André (David Viviers) and his pacifist first-love and wife, Jana (Anoecha Kruger).
Its emotive impact is found in the fact that it tricks you into that sense of complacency —thinking Raak is just a sweet love story with maybe an element of sadness that the couple can overcome together— until the violent roots of their true destruction reveal itself through well-balanced and nuanced text, tone and design.
The character development in this play of but 60 minutes is remarkable, with Viviers and Kruger delivering impressive and compelling performances.
The setting for their decaying traditionally-endorsed relationship of man-of-the-house and dutiful wife visually gradually mirrors how your heart starts breaking for Jana —blood symbolically seeping through a strong fauna and flora connection as emotional and physical abuse shatter the façade of a happily ever after. The emotive undertone of the text (by Kanya Viljoen and the cast) reveals itself like a steady drop of temperature that suddenly sends a chill down your spine as it accentuates the toxic nature of this dark narrative’s arc.
If you saw Raak during its short run at this year's Woordfees, your theatrical frame of reference will most certainly be better for it. It's an exquisite and brave exploration of a painful and often hidden topic.