The Visigoths

When and where: June 6 – 24, 2023, Masambe Theatre, Baxter, Cape Town
Louis Viljoen
Performers: Nicholas Pauling and Daniel Newton
Production design:
Kieran McGregor

In Louis Viljoen new play, The Visigoths, premiering in the Baxter’s Masambe, we see the facing off of two people, after a decade as they confront each other and the past. Nicholas Pauling provides a jittery presence as Roth who has spent ten years in jail. He went to jail on the account of saving Theo (Daniel Newton) from shocking abuse. But did he do enough and what now? How far will one go to “save” someone close? And is it ever enough? Nicholas Pauling and Daniel Newton are both excellent in this psychological thriller which digs deep into abuse, trauma, revenge and choices made. Superb script and performances – compelling theatre.

It is a gruelling play watch – to witness the pain, conflict and turmoil of the protagonists – guilt and recriminations. I do not want to plot spoil what is revealed on stage as the narrative spools out. It is a puzzle that is played out and we the audience are left to puzzle out the psychological thriller as we stagger out of the theatre: All that happened between these two broken and damaged individuals and the brutality that shaped their lives.

Viljoen’s writing is achingly tender and shredded with the pain and conflict of the two men who are tethered to each other. Is it possible to get out of this knot of trauma and is ‘freedom’ conceivable? I loved the intensity between Pauling and Newton and how they sit, huddled at a table, dressed in suits, shrouded by dust. They look like they are kitted for a funeral. Perhaps they are the living dead.

I was intrigued by this play and am still mulling over the plot and pondering the fact that there is no accounting for human behaviour. Yes, I am being cryptic but as I say, I do not want to plot spoil.  Go and see it and become immersed in the puzzle of The Visigoths. What is the price “for eliminating the past” and can trauma be ‘fixed” and end with a “decision”? Excellent play.

Gothic: Nicholas Pauling and Daniel Newton in the Visigoths by Louis Viljoen. Pic: Claude Barnardo

✳ Images by Claude Barnardo