By ‘Odidi Matai-Sigudla
The eerie set complements the period in which the play is set, namely the height of the Depression years in South Africa (1929 – 1934). We are met with a sparse kitchen scene – a table set for three, a kitchen cabinet, a window with curtains billowing softly in the breeze. There is calm music playing in the background as the audience moves into the Victoria Girls High School Gymnasium.
Stirling High School’s Missing is based on the original production by Reza de Wet. The play follows a family of three; a diligent daughter who does whatever her ill mother (Miem) asks of her, and a father who’s been living in the attic since the start of the Depression.
The story begins on an ominous August night. It is the anniversary of the disappearance of multiple young women, and much like the rest of the town, Miem fears her daughter will be the culprit’s next victim. So, Miem diligently sews sacks with her daughter in an attempt to keep her indoors and not in attendance at the mysterious circus who have arrived in town.
Soon, they’re joined by the mother’s overly-dramatic (and crowd favourite) friend, Gertie. The plot continues to thicken with the arrival of a blind police officer who seems to be the town’s most eligible bachelor.
The actors create a dynamic experience on-stage, throughout. In addition to crafting myriad immersive scenes and settings on stage, they share their own circus experiences in, short, sharp soliloquies providing detailed tales of their adventures that do well to give us a better sense of their interiority.
Altogether, the show provides a good balance of comedy, jump scares and fascination as your intrigue for the show mirrors theirs of the circus. The cast is able to brilliantly depict scenes and play their characters perfectly. Thus, it is no surprise they are winners of a 2023 Ovation Award. It is a show thoroughly enjoyed by all, appropriately met with a standing ovation.