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04 Feb 2009

Paul Slabolepszy’s FREAK COUNTRY

Paul Slabolepszy’s
10 - 28 February Baxter Theatre

Directed by Charmaine Weir-Smith
Design by Sarah Roberts
Lighting by Wesley France

Starring Antony Coleman, Jerry Mofokeng and Peter Mashigo

When does a free country become exactly the opposite? How long does it take for those in power to turn paranoid? What if you pushed your luck with these people in just such a place? Freedom‘s just another word…”

Well-known South African playwright Paul Slabolepszy’s dark comedy and thriller, Freak Country, directed by Charmaine Weir-Smith starring Antony Coleman, Jerry Mofokeng and Peter Mashingo, comes to Cape Town at the Baxter Theatre from 10 to 28 February 2009.

Widely regarded as one of South Africa’s most prolific and popular playwrights, Slabolepszy has written 33 plays in the last 30 years. Freak Country is his first thriller. It is presented by Baxter Theatre Centre by arrangement with Daphne Kuhn from the Old Mutual Theatre on the Square in Sandton, where the production premièred last year. This pertinent and electric new work has been described as contemporary, edgy, entertaining and brutally honest.

“Travel is not getting any easier, says Slabolepszy. “Freaky experiences in the customs offices of countries all around the globe are becoming the norm rather than the exception. These encounters are even more unsettling when the exotic places we visit are run by dictators. This is a ‘what if’ story. It could happen to anyone.”

Award-winning director, actress and writer Weir-Smith explains, “It is a piece that pushes psychological and physical boundaries and raises many issues, particularly the issue of freedom. In Paul’s inimitable way, he has taken the characters of this piece on a rather unexpected ride. It’s a journey that is filled with humour, pathos and riveting moments of truth.” Sarah Roberts is responsible for design with lighting by Lesley France.

Antony Coleman plays Aaron Blakely, a young South African actor traveling to the Comores to play a bit-part in an international war film who finds himself in a potentially highly dangerous situation when the plane on which he is traveling stops over in an unnamed African country, somewhere to the North.

His biggest mistake is that he ends up drinking too much on the flight and in this spirit he completes his official “in-transit” forms with great comic relief which ultimately lead to devastating consequences. He is held captive in a dingy office by a single guard named Ndlovu (played by Peter Mashingo). His dangerously not-so-funny jokes invokes deep suspicion as matters take a turn for the worse with the arrival of Colonel Moyanga (Jerry Mofokeng), a Special Forces customs official with a seriously bad attitude

The fact that Aaron has a pseudonym (his stage name); the fact that he has documentation outlining planned attacks of sabotage (his film script); plus the fact that his ancestral links with the country are strong (he was born there), have placed the actor in a potentially highly dangerous situation. Tensions run high and speculation is rife - is he a spy, or possibly a mercenary or perhaps a lone assassin?

Throughout his interrogation – during which time Aaron’s initial flight has continued on its journey – the actor finds himself getting deeper and deeper into a hole from which he may never emerge. ‘Operation Wildfire’ is not at all the action-adventure Aaron Blakely expected in his wildest imaginings.

Who needs the movies when real life becomes a roller coaster ride to hell and back in this three-hander which is loaded and injected with a healthy dose of intrigue and dark humor.

Sunday Independent reviewer Arja Salafranca said; ‘Paul Slabolepszy's latest play, Freak Country, is easily my choice for play of the decade. It delivers a punch to the solar plexus. It leaves you reeling, thinking and reeling some more. We rarely see such theatre.’

Ticket prices range: Previews on 10 and 11 February cost R80, Monday to Thursday R110, Fridays and Saturdays R120.

Booking is through Computicket on 083 915 8000, on-line at or at any Shoprite Checkers outlet. For discounted block, corporate or school bookings, charities or fundraisers, contact Sharon on 021 680 3962, Sakhiwo on 021 680 3991 or Tarryn on 021 680 3993.


"Jazz and freedom go hand in hand. That explains it. There isn't any more to add to it. If I do add to it, it gets complicated. That's something for you to think about. You think about it and dig it. You dig it..." Thelonious Monk
"Jazz and freedom go hand in hand. That explains it. There isn't any more to add to it. If I do add to it, it gets complicated. That's something for you to think about. You think about it and dig it. You dig it..." Thelonious Monk

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