His new production, Rainbow Scars, deftly directed by Lara Bye, once again penetrates the very core of the South African situation, with sharp insight, cutting dialogue and totally believable characters.
It takes place in 2013. Ellen Robinson (Jennifer Steyn), a divorcee whose ex-husband is in jail for fraud, adopts the daughter of her late domestic servant and raises her as her own. She already has a daughter, Megan, who lives in England because she cannot find a job in South Africa.
The girl, Lindiwe (Kertrice Maitisa), grows into an intelligent teenager, given a good education and with great prospects for the future. Then conflict enters their tight little world when an estranged cousin, Sicelo Mabundla (Mbulelo Grootboom), who has also been in prison, appears on the scene and confronts Lindiwe. He implores her to reconnect with her past and to visit his sick mother, the twin sister of Lindiwe’s own mother. She refuses.
An angry Sicelo returns to the Robinson household after his mother dies. He is seeking answers and the tension between the three characters begins to manifest and is slowly, and cleverly, built up until it reaches a scorching climax.
The three performers, especially 19-year-old student Maitisa, are superb, bringing just the right shadings to their characters’ interpretations. As with most of Van Graan’s writing, he manages to create real entities in real situations, painting a landscape that mirrors significant aspects of South African society. He talks to both the heart and the intellect without adopting a preachy attitude and his commentary is thought-provoking and lingers long after the play’s ending.
Rainbow Scars is a highly commendable addition to Van Graan’s impressive body of work.