Solomon And Marion
Written by Lara Foot
Birmingham Repertory Theatre
Birmingham Repertory Theatre has a knack of putting on great small scale performances in its studio space, there is something about the intimacy of The Studio that lends itself beautifully to a performance like Solomon And Marion.
Solomon And Marion made its UK première at the Edinburgh Assembly Fringe Festival in 2013, but started it’s life out in Cape Town, South Africa. It tells the story of a still torn and violent South Africa as it braces itself for a the 2010 World Cup. 20 years after apartheid, an unlikely friendship between Marion, an lonely elderly divorcee and Solomon, a 20 year old youth is formed.
Lara Foot’s script hits all the right notes. It mentions the struggles in passing, but does not try to hard to make a political point: she allows the characters and their stories to do this for her. There are still troubles in South Africa to date, and this exploration of unlikely friendship in the circumstances really gives us a full taste of the tragedy and inhumanity the country has faced without having to force feed us the information.
Oscar nominated Janet Suzman gives a riveting performance as Marion, from the moment the play starts the bitterness and coldness in her eyes is apparent. But she also embraces the tenderness of the character as an unlikely companion in Solomon enters her life. Khayalethu Anthony is incredibly engaging as Solomon, despite his battle with an accent that many would find unfamiliar and hard to listen to at times. He really gives us a character who is just as lost as Marion, and the two contrast each other so perfectly to accentuate to difference yet similarities in their characters. You can tell the roles are close to the hearts of both actors, the gap across generational and racial boundaries that is bridged is played to near perfection and tugs at the heartstrings.
A deeply engaging and touching play, with masterful performances – dealing with sensitive issues and a piece to make you think, but still a pleasure to watch.