There is a strong sense of foreboding to Ameera Conrad’s first appearance in this compelling solo show, thanks to Kathleen Stephens’ mask design and Naledi Majola’s sound. But when Conrad emerges from behind her mask, all rigidity and tension slips from her body ,revealing a casual openness both in her physical performance and in her tale of a young woman’s trip abroad before moving on to college.
Under Stephens’ direction, Conrad’s un-named daughter of ANC activists wears her middle-class privilege casually. Yet she is a hugely endearing character who you would want to have as a friend, laughing along and forgetting the opening dark beats, as she talks about her grandma’s meanings of flowers and her modern Catholic upbringing.
Each element of Conrad’s script is precisely chosen to highlight and frame the darkness and internal conflict experienced by both character and, thanks to her performance, the audience, when the reality of what happened in London emerges.
While news headlines focus on violent – sometimes lethal – rapes by unknown assailants, Conrad shows a violation that is rather more mundane, hardly violent at all, occurring between those known to each other. She explores the psychological twists of its aftermath with an uneasy lack of detachment as her victim finds herself shouldering and internalising all the blame.
It is a compelling yet hugely unsettling piece of work.