A Review by Erin Fair
"The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek" begins as the story of real-life "outsider artist" Nukain Mabuza, (Thomas Silcott) is forced to face his legacy as a painter, a person, and a black man in 1980s South Africa. With him is a bright, destitute, 11-year-old boy named Bokkie (Philip Solomon), who is his helper. Bokkie doesn't understand why Nukain is so hesitant to get started painting the last boulder. The old man admits he is frightened of what he calls the "Big One". He wants his painting on this rock to be different. He wants it to outlive him, to be proof that he existed. He wants it to tell his story.
With the singing of a South African song Mabuza becomes inspired and paints his self portrait: a man who has walked dark roads in search of work, overcome personal losses, and survived the dehumanizing system of apartheid. All is well until the farmer's wife Elmarie Kleynhans (Suanne Spoke) arrives with a plateful of leftovers. Her brutal edge springs open like a switchblade as she senses a challenge in Mabuza's painting of his story as a man on the big rock. "Hose it off," she tells Bokkie. By this point in the play, the very thought of destroying the painting is beyond what he can bear.
The second act opens in 2003 with a now grownup Bokkie, who now goes by the name Jonathan Sejake (Gilbert Glenn Brown), returns to the farm to restore Nukain's rapidly vanishing final work. Elmarie greets this well-dressed intruder with a gun, shaking with terror and rage as she points it at Jonathan's head. This bunkered fear comes from a real place: seven of her white neighbors have been murdered in the past month and the new majority-black government doesn't seem to be doing anything about it.
The performances from the aforementioned cast are tremendously engaging as the four- person play has an amazing amount of talent behind it. This story is potent not just for its shrewd politics, but for its subtly poignant reflection on mortality. I recommend this play because there is always something relatable about a tale that links together the politics of a time period and the necessity of the human heart. As Nukain's flowers fade from nature's continuous attack, it becomes alarmingly clear that none of this will last forever. What takes its place very much depends on the patience and compassion of the present generation.
At The Fountain Theatre
Oct 30 - Dec 14, 2015
Sundays, 3pm & 7pm
Mondays, 8pm (Pay-What-You-Can)