22nd Apr, 2019

REVIEW - Kunene and the King, RSC Swan Theatre

Matthew Salisbury 4th Apr, 2019 Updated: 4th Apr, 2019

TWO ill-matched characters irritably discussing a production of King Lear which we, and they, know will almost certainly never happen. Add in a strong current of South African political history and it’s hardly a guaranteed success. But such is the joy of the writing and the wit and compassion of the playing, that this smart two-hander is a roaring success and more.

Writer John Kani brings his own words to life as a principled, strong-willed male nurse Lunga contracted to care for Antony Sher’s unashamedly rude actor Jack struggling to cope with terminal liver cancer. It’s a relationship which suffers many battles in defining itself. What one believes is an employer’s relationship with his employee the other sees as an equal partnership in care.

Initial stand-offs gradually give way to acceptance, grudging respect even and finally to the possibility of friendship of a kind. There are recriminations and painful memories but, for all its weighty political background, essentially this is always a story about two men coming to terms with what’s happened and what’s around the corner.

Of course there is the temptation to view King Lear as being a metaphor for the old South Africa handing over its power to a younger, far from perfect generation. But that temptation is gloriously blown away when Sher’s Jack makes exactly those points from his chair heaping scorn upon anyone daft enough to think it. The laughter only just masks the sound of the nation’s theatre reviewers tearing up their notes.

We get a change of scene for the final segment as Jack somehow finds his way to Lunga’s home. Swapping home territory makes for a few subtle changes in the relationship as Jack’s earlier outbursts about being in charge in his home are now reversed against him.

Lungiswa Plaatjies provides suitable music and Birrie Le Roux’s design is nicely cramped, chaotic and full of detail. Janice Honeyman keeps the pacing just right and allows the relationship between the two men to develop gradually.

There is a huge danger in two-handed plays as didactic as this that they slip into heavy politicising, sacrificing any kind of theatricality for a rather dull take-it-in-turns lecture. Not so here. There’s a wealth of very funny, very visual comedy, and some excellent physical stage pictures. Never dragging in its hour-and-half running time it remains watchable throughout.

 

Buy Photos

Buy photos online from the Redditch Standard newspaper.

Car Finder 24/7

We've written reviews to help you find a car you'll love to drive.

Subscribe

Receive a weekly update to your inbox by signing up to our weekly newsletter.

Announcements

Weddings, Birthdays, Bereavements, Thank you notices, Marriages and more.

Cookie Preferences

We use cookies on this website for a number of purposes. They help us to provide you with a good experience, and also allow us to improve our site. By continuing to browse the site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Alternatively, you can disable all unnecessary cookies.

Targeting

These cookies record your visit to our website, the pages you have visited and the links you have followed. We will use this information to make our website and the advertising displayed on it more relevant to your interests. We may also share this information with third parties for this purpose.

  • __gadsUsed to register what ads have been displayed to the user.

  • _ssumRegisters a unique ID that identifies a returning user\'s device. The ID is used for targeted ads.

  • auditUsed to record cookie consent data.

  • IDEUsed by Google DoubleClick for re-targeting, optimisation, reporting and attribution of on line adverts.

  • DSIDUsed by Google DoubleClick for re-targeting, optimisation, reporting and attribution of on line adverts.

  • eudRegisters anonymised user data, such as IP address, geographical location , visited websites, and what ads the user has clicked, with the purpose of optimising ad display based on the user's movement on websites that use the same ad network.

  • eudsRegisters anonymised user data, such as IP address, geographical location , visited websites, and what ads the user has clicked, with the purpose of optimising ad display based on the user's movement on websites that use the same ad network.

  • everest_g_v2Used for targeted ads and to document efficacy of each individual ad.

  • GoogleAdServingTestUsed to register what ads have been displayed to the user.

  • IDEUsed by Google DoubleClick to register and report the website user\'s actions after viewing or clicking one of the advertiser\'s ads with the purpose of measuring the efficacy of an ad and to present targeted ads to the user.

  • khaosRegisters anonymised user data, such as IP address, geographical location , visited websites, and what ads the user has clicked, with the purpose of optimising ad display based on the user's movement on websites that use the same ad network.

  • rsidRegisters anonymised user data, such as IP address, geographical location , visited websites, and what ads the user has clicked, with the purpose of optimising ad display based on the user's movement on websites that use the same ad network.

  • rudRegisters anonymised user data, such as IP address, geographical location , visited websites, and what ads the user has clicked, with the purpose of optimising ad display based on the user's movement on websites that use the same ad network.

  • rudsRegisters anonymised user data, such as IP address, geographical location , visited websites, and what ads the user has clicked, with the purpose of optimising ad display based on the user's movement on websites that use the same ad network.

  • ses#Registers anonymised user data, such as IP address, geographical location , visited websites, and what ads the user has clicked, with the purpose of optimising ad display based on the user's movement on websites that use the same ad network.

  • puxDates for when information in the put_* and sput cookies expires and should be refreshed.

  • ssiRegisters a unique ID that identifies a returning user's device. The ID is used for targeted ads.

  • uuidCollects data on the user's visits to the website, such as what pages have been loaded. The registered data is used for targeted ads.

  • uuidcCollects data on the user's visits to the website, such as what pages have been loaded. The registered data is used for targeted ads.

  • vis#Registers anonymised user data, such as IP address, geographical location , visited websites, and what ads the user has clicked, with the purpose of optimising ad display based on the user's movement on websites that use the same ad network.

  • trp_optoutCookie indicating that a user has opted-out of behavioral targeting marketing.

  • FPTrustThese cookies support the opt-out process via the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI).

  • rpxContains expiration dates for information in the rpb cookie.

  • fcapNumber of times we have shown an ad on a per user basis.

Performance

They allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works, for example, by ensuring that users find what they are looking for easily.

  • __utmaThis cookie is used to calculate new and returning visitor statistics through Google Analytics.

  • __utmbThis cookie is used to establish and continue a user session with your site. When a user views a page on your site, the Google Analytics code attempts to update this cookie. If it does not find the cookie, a new one is written and a new session is established. Each time a user visits a different page on our site, this cookie is updated to expire in 30 minutes, thus continuing a single session for as long as user activity continues within 30-minute intervals. This cookie expires when a user pauses on a page on our site for longer than 30 minutes.

  • test_cookieUsed to check if your browser supports cookies.

  • _gaRegisters a unique ID that is used to generate statistical data on how the visitor uses the website.

  • _gatUsed by Google Analytics to throttle request rate.

  • _gidRegisters a unique ID that is used to generate statistical data on how the visitor uses the website.

  • collectUsed to send data to Google Analytics about the visitor\'s device and behaviour. Tracks the visitor across devices and marketing channels.

  • _gat_newsOverviewUsed by Google Analytics to throttle request rate.

  • UIDUsed to track the user around the site.

  • UIDRUsed to track the user around the site.

Necessary

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website, use a shopping cart or make use of the e-billing services.

  • PHPSESSIDThe PHPSESSID cookie is used for managing user session on the website and does not store any personal information.