|Photo credit: Joan Marcus|
The play was originally written in 1989 and takes place in an Eastern Cape Karoo town in 1984. It begins with a debate in Mr. M's (James A. Williams) classroom between his star pupil, Thami (Stephen Tyrone Williams) and Isabel (Allie Gallerani), visiting from a nearby white school. The two students become fast friends and Mr. M decides to team them up to compete in a literary competition. But as Thami gets more and more caught up with the student boycott, he is torn between love for a teacher whose principles he disagrees with and his own beliefs that the education system is unfair.
The characters often go into too-long monologues which break up the flow of the rest of the play and significantly slow down the pacing, even when delivered by this cast. But when acting opposite each other, the performers are riveting. Stephen Tyrone Williams is particularly memorable. I saw him earlier this season in Burning and was shocked it was the same person--so convincingly was he able to portray a teenager.