Undone (2 stars)

This article is from 2013


South African in-character life-story dealing with family issues

Appearing as part of the Assembly’s South African Season, writer/director and performer Wessel Pretorius is an actor with a commanding stage-presence, all the more for being introduced stark naked, lying in a tin bath. Over the following hour, Pretorius relates a tightly in-character life-story in three acts, detailing the father and mother issues which have led him into a state of unhappiness. Sporting a string of pearls and high-heels, he takes the audience through a deeply personal journey of painful self-discovery, interspersed with allusions to literature (Theodore Roethke’s poem My Papa’s Waltz gets an outing) and classical references to the story of Dionysus.

As an actor’s piece, it’s a breathtaking show of strength, but pitched too high for most audiences; the allusions are unexplained and not always easily understandable, while the hectoring delivery makes the self-confession of Undone seem one-note. Part of the show details the narrator’s anger at his brother, who doesn’t care for such introspection. By the end, his brother’s attitude seems like a reasonable reaction; Undone is too close to personal therapy for the actor to fully engage an audience.

Three- Assembly George Square, 0131 623 3030, until 26 Aug (not 12), 2pm, £12-£13


  • 2 stars

Wordsmith's Theatre Factory and Assembly. Winner of eight major South African theatre awards. 'Exquisitely beautiful' ★★★★★ (Krit). A man soaks in a bath, smoke drifting into the blue. Around him scattered remains of a life: boxes, a gramophone, mother's pearls, father's jacket - his constant companions as he retraces his…