You can read 9 more articles this month
‘Master Harold’ ... and the boys
National Theatre, London
IN HIS programme notes, Harold Athol Lanigan Fugard describes his 1982 play ‘Master Harold’ … and the boys as “probably the most intensely personal thing I have ever written.”
It’s so personal that he did not even change the names of the characters from that of his own — Hally, the pet name of a young Fugard — or the “two beautiful men” he describes as having ushered him from boyhood to manhood, Sam Semala (Lucian Msamati) and Willie Malopo (Hammed Animashaun).
Sam and Willie were the waiters in the Port Elizabeth tearoom owned by Fugard’s mother, which is beautifully brought to life on the Lyttleton stage by Rajha Shakiry’s delicately detailed design.
No less delicate is Fugard’s gracefully fluctuating text, which rises and falls like the ballroom dancing steps that Sam is trying to teach Willie in anticipation of the 1950 Eastern Province championships, disrupting the uppity Hally from his homework in the process.
There is a truly wonderful scene in which the two elder men describe the championships in all their joy and vividly bring the majesty of the occasion to life as Hally is temporarily sucked into a world he does not understand. It is crammed with hopes and dreams but underscored by the brutality of segregation.
Although the laws of apartheid have only been in place for two years, a system of white privilege and segregation has far deeper roots. “Safe inside your fair skin,” as his surrogate father Sam describes him, and with his alcoholic father ailing in hospital, Hally combines his furious intellect with a deep adolescent frustration.
When his rage boils over he resorts to the lowest form of abuse to temper his anger. It is a truly shocking moment that climaxes a heart-churning play.
A brilliantly acting triumvirate each deliver astounding performances, particularly the sprightly Lucian Msmati who never puts a foot wrong, physically and metaphorically.
Following on from last autumn’s hit Nine Night, director Roy Alexander Wiese delivers a masterful production of a remarkable play.
Runs until December 17, box office: nationaltheatre.org.uk
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.