Theatre review - African Gothic

In South African Reza de Wet’s gruesome drama Sussie (Janna Fox) and Frikkie (Oliver Gomm) live on a derelict farm with their black nanny, Alina (Lesley Ewen).

Their parents are long dead and so are their crops. The incestuous pair sleep most of the day and when awake share memories and stories, playing out key scenes from their childhood.

The pair’s routine is interrupted by the arrival of Grove (Adam Ewan), a lawyer who has come to inform them of the death of an aunt and their inheritance.

Unnerved by their feral and infantile existence, Grove tries to leave. But strangely, his car won’t start and the phone line is dead. After attempting to reach the nearest farm across terrain populated by jackals, he decides to wait for daybreak with Sussie and Frikkie. The siblings circle their prey like wild animals and we know there’s going to be a violent denouement.

Although the pair’s explosive emotions lack subtlety, de Wet brilliantly elucidates the dehumanising effects of isolation.

Nancy Surman’s terrific set evokes a dilapidated farm in the midst of a drought. The Park’s studio feels suitably hot and oppressive, adding to the claustrophobic atmosphere.

De Wet’s gothic horror tackles big subjects – incest, child abuse and superstition, as well as the decline of Afrikaaner dominance – perhaps too many to absorb in just 80 minutes.


Box office: 020 7870 6876

Originally published by Camden Review