A Room Somewhere
Hello and Goodbye by Athol Fugard

Dates and Venue June 27 - July 6, 2019 @ 8pm, (June 30 & July 6 @ 2pm) | The Nest, 1398 Cartwright St. Granville Island

Director Bo Petersen Lighting Designer Keagan Elrick Sound Designer Thomas Beckman Fight Direction Ryan McNeill and Mike Kovac Stage Manager Olivia Etey

Reviewer Christian Steckler

Athol Fugard wrote a deeply thought-provoking play in Hello and Goodbye. Thanks to Bo Petersen’s insightful direction and Riaan Smit and Deborah Vieyra’s sensitive portrayals of the main characters, the audience walks away wondering about its meaning in their own lives. What more could playwrights and performers ask?

Hello and Goodbye is a story of memories, of pasts recounted, and the different effects they have on individuals who share them. Johnnie and Hester are grown siblings, raised in poverty made even more challenging by an accident that permanently disabled their bread-winning father. A brief reunion highlights how their memories, and the resulting impressions of their upbringing have shaped vastly different creatures. Hester, coming to the family home where Johnnie lives, is a hate-filled, resentful manipulator, made bitter by the life she’s survived in making ends meet. Johnnie is a pathetic man whose life was derailed at a young age by a mixture of insecurity, laziness, and a misplaced sense of love and loyalty. Both are tragic figures.

The action centres on a belief that their father received compensation for the terrible accident that disabled him. A sly search of their father’s personal effects to unearth cash evokes memories of their childhood from both, gradually revealing how their different personalities have interpreted their experiences and shaped who they have become.

The painstaking untying and searching of box after box may be symbolic of the precious nature of memories. It may also symbolize the uselessness of clinging to memories that are locked away for safe keeping, never reviewed and felt anew as the perceiver grows and changes.

Vieyra and Smit gave strong performances, believable and engaging. Throughout the action, the audience was dead silent, hanging on every word. Technical support in sound and light, and in sets, added credibility and authenticity to the evening, bringing spectators fully into the room in the tiny house.

This play certainly reminds us that our past is with us forever, strongly influencing who we become. The dramatic tragedy in Hello and Goodbye is that Hester and Johnnie fail to realize that what we do with our lives constantly creates our past, minute-by-minute, and that we, therefore, control how it shapes us. This play is powerful and leaves the spectator thinking. See it and be set to wonder.

© 2019 Christian Steckler