With Die moeder, celebrated director of films such as Kanarie and Poppie Nongena, Christiaan Olwagen, returns to his first love – the theatre.
Die moeder (originally The Mother) is a compelling portrait of empty nest syndrome by award-winning playwright Florian Zeller, who also wrote The Father. The film version of The Father won Oscars for Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins) and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Olwagen translated Die moeder, which debuted at the 2022 Toyota SU Woordfees, and transposed the events to contemporary South Africa. According to Netwerk24’s national arts editor, Laetitia Pople, this shift is so recognizable that it could just as well have taken place here.
On her blog, De Beer Necessities, seasoned theatre critic Diane de Beer writes that although Christiaan Olwagen’s success as a film director is remarkable, it is always his theatre work that impresses her the most: “It feels as if it is a medium that he fully understands, where he feels at home, and where his vision translates magnificently.”
Sandra Prinsloo plays the role of Anna who is unable to come to terms with the realisation that motherhood, as she has known it, is over. Anna’s children have grown up and have lives and loves of their own. She spends hours alone, and the world seems to tilt around her. Is her husband really having an affair? Did her favoured son really come home? Or has the loneliness driven Anna to madness?
“Prinsloo slips under your and her character’s skin in a performance that simply surpasses everything she has done before – and there have been several great roles,” says Diane de Beer.
Other cast members include Dawid Minnaar, Ludwig Binge and Ashley de Lange.
“Binge, Prinsloo, Olwagen and his technical team spin a theatrical dance that will be remembered for a long time. A dance of unforgettable oblivion,” writes Machelle van Zyl in INK.
“Every mother is going to identify with Die moeder. […] A brilliant production. […] It shows once again the calibre of our artists,” says Laetitia Pople.
The mother was awarded three kykNET Fiestas this year: Best Festival Production, Best Director (Christiaan Olwagen) and Best Performance in a Leading Role (Sandra Prinsloo). This production also won five Woodtrofees Awards.
Die moeder will be staged at the Baxter Theatre Centre’s Flipside Theatre from 12 to 29 April. The play has English subtitles. Tickets are available at Webtickets.
Watch the trailer here: