Janet Suzman revives Athol Fugard’s controversial A Lesson From Aloes at Finborough Theatre

Our race is a mistake.

South African/British actor, writer and director, Janet Suzman, directs the first London production in 35 years of Athol Fugard’s A Lesson From Aloes at the multi-award-winning Finborough Theatre this spring.

In the small backyard of a house in a shabby Port Elizabeth suburb, pots of aloe – the desert plant that can thrive in the most barren soil – bear silent witness to a world where trust has been betrayed and destroyed.

South Africa in the 1960s. Apartheid is at its height. Mandela’s ANC has just been banned as a terrorist organisation. Informers are everywhere.

Left leaning Afrikaner Piet and his wife, Gladys, hold a party for their mixed-race friend Steve who has just been released from prison.

But when mistrust creeps into your own backyard, the closest of ties are undone. Who has betrayed this group of friends? And why is one of them on a one way ticket out of the country?

The drama hasn’t been seen in London since its UK premiere at the National Theatre, where it was directed by Athol Fugard himself, and won rave reviews.

This new production marks the 25th anniversary year of the first free and democratic elections in South Africa.

The original production of A Lesson From Aloes premiered at the Market Theatre Johannesburg in 1978, where it provoked huge controversy and narrowly escaped being banned. The Broadway production won the New York Critics Circle Award for Best New Play.

The cast of this new production is Dawid Minnaar as Piet, David Rubin as Steve and Janine Ulfane as Gladys.

Playwright Athol Fugard has been working in the theatre as a playwright, director and actor in South Africa, England and the United States for over fifty years.

A Lesson From Aloes runs at the Finborough Theatre from February 27 – March 23.

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