the play tells us almost all it has to say in the first ten minutes -
and it does tell
us, the man narrating his story and describing his feelings in an
almost unbroken monologue to the gravedigger at the Potters Field where
the woman is buried.
forward movement in the play, except in the man's thinking, as he goes
from anger to the recognition that after death there's not much
difference between blacks and whites and to the realisation that the
woman's life must have been totally without hope and the discovery that
the more he empathises with her the less angry he is.
believe that that's a major set of revelations, even for South Africa,
and so the psychological journey may not seem worth the effort.
interview Fugard suggests that the play is a metaphor for the journey
of white South Africa in the recent past, from treating blacks as
invisible, to being angry at their calling attention to themselves, to
an understanding and acceptance of shared humanity.
the play is too
fragile to carry such a heavy metaphoric load, and its power must lie
in our caring for the painful experience of the individual man. And you
may well think that he deserves more than some brotherhood-of-man
clichés for his efforts, especially when Fugard tacks on a darkly
ironic final plot twist that makes it all essentially pointless.
detract from the performance of Sean Taylor who, directed by the
playwright, does everything possible to make us believe in and care
about the driver's pain and his struggle to find a way to closure. Own
Sejake brings an understated warmth and dignity to the almost silent
role of the gravedigger.
Return to Theatreguide.London home page.Review - The Train Driver - Hampstead Theatre 2010