Review: So You want to be a trophy wife? –at the vNAF the virtual edition of The National Arts Festival, South Africa- on until July 31, 2020

Performer and writer: Sue Diepeveen

Director: Wynne Bredenkamp


Direct booking link: https://nationalartsfestival.co.za/show/so-you-want-to-be-a-trophy-wife/

As we head into the last week of the National Arts Festival, it is a race to get up as many reviews as possible and view the shows on my watch list. I am hoping that some shows will pop up on other digital platforms after the vNAF is over and that I will be able to watch again and write longer reviews. The level of artistry at the vNAF has been mined blowing. When it was announced on March 17 that the NAF was going virtual, I could not conceptualise how this would pan out. It has been a revelation to see the mix of approaches – art films, audio only recordings, recordings which transmute live performance into a film medium.

So You want to be a trophy wife? was filmed on stage at The Drama Factory, in Cape Town. The writer/performer of the play is Sue Diepeveen who is the owner/proprietor of The Drama Factory. When lockdown was eased and filming was possible, she re-purposed her theatre into a film studio. Many creatives have been filming in her space.

The multi-talented Sue Diepeveen has written and performs in this charming drama about a woman who has kind of reached her sell by date –according to her world view which dictates that women are meant to be married and looked after by men. We see her packing up her life – surrounded by heaps of magazines. Diepeveen told me that the play was inspired by her aunt. The magazines were inspired by her mom who filled the house with magazines of the day.

Watching during lockdown, the play resonates profoundly in terms of the fact that many people are thinking – well – what happens next – as they shuffle around piles of papers and magazines. The woman depicted is a throwback to another era, although maybe not. I hear young women saying blithely that they are looking for a sugar daddy and young men that are looking for a sugar mommy. I think at the moment, we could do with a trophy figure to make this pandemic disappear. I am not going to plot spoil about this bitter-sweet story of a woman, flummoxed about what comes next.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching this recorded live piece. Diepeveen has created a woman who is funny, self-deprecating and engaging. She pulls us until her gaze, into her space. However, I would love to see this in live theatre context and have my eye explore the fun props and be in the live moment. I want to hear the swish of boxes being moved around and be caught up in the action on stage.

Watching  this play, I was fixated on the magazines which are like another character. Many magazine titles have come to the end of their lives, during lockdown. They have become an anachronism – just like the character – who feels that she has passed her sell-by-date.  It is interesting that the pandemic has shifted so many reference points. The magazines that are featured in Diepeveen’s mom’s life have largely disappeared. When this play is performed live, it will almost take on a sense of period piece.

Don’t toss those magazines. They may become collector’s pieces – trophies of a time when we looked to magazines for relationship and trend advice.

So You Want to be A Trophy Wife?

Platform: vFringe – the virtual edition of The National Arts Festival, South Africa

Format: Film

Genre: Drama

Available: View until July 31, 2020

Direct booking link: https://nationalartsfestival.co.za/show/so-you-want-to-be-a-trophy-wife/

Tickets: R50

Production details For the NAF recording

Producer: Faeron Wheeler

Film location: The Drama Factory, Cape Town, South Africa

Filming by Marc and Luc Degenaar


Editing by Luc Degenaar

Publicity photographs: Wynne Bredenkamp