Amy Jephta has punished us cruelly. With love.
Sitting here, shocked to the core, I am pondering how fury can be so carefully woven into characters with whom we fall madly, deeply in love?
All Who Pass is the story of District 6, torn down in 1974 with such foul, disdainful, bureaucratic contempt that its National Party apartheid architects are fully deserving of being pilloried as mutant Nazi offspring. They deserved every bit of contempt and hatred we can squeeze from our bitter past.
This is not Jephta’s way. Here she comes with her cast of five, playing out the last days of the infamous forced removal with such awesome simplicity and pathos that we are swept up in a storm of love and dust.
There is no lofty post-modernist obscurity, no huge, blood-drenched, Big Brother digital screen, no ranging across massive canons of religion, culture and geo-politics.
Just the stage and the story. People are living here.
The beast is growling, prowling and clanking. It is rumbling through the community, tearing it down one street, one house, one family, at a time.
Shards of memories, relationships, history, life, pile up in the gutters.
We see a stoic, single mom frozen in dignity, her two children, one a bouncy, adorable eight-year-old who knows little of the impending horror, her brother a teen trying to shield her, while grappling with his own rage against the officious pink letters of doom.
The neighbour cannot get out of bed. The particle vortex of collapsed cement and brick, the anxiety, brings on asthma. So many hidden aspects of a community being smashed in slow motion of this final assault, final solution, which we would miss in the big politics of the another kind of play.
However, Jeptha, winner of the 2019 Standard Bank Young Artist for theatre, has been sublimely intelligent in reaching deep into theatre. She has not fallen into gilded mirror of the moment and tried to go for a grandiose gesture.
Nope. Like a sage, she has returned to the earth of theatre and has crafted a beautiful piece of straight-up, extraordinary work.
The story is back. We are with her people. We are the people.
And now we understand. The wound has been passed on, and we too, in our utterly human fury, demand resolution.