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Fugard's Master Visits Liverpool, Hello Hits London

By • West End
Two major revivals of works by South African dramatist Athol Fugard are being mounted as part of the countrywide events taking place to commemorate Black History Month in October.

At the Liverpool Everyman, Phil Willmott's production of Fugard's Master Harold and the Boys (pictured) opens tomorrow night (30 September 2003, previews from 26 September) and continues until 11 October.

On a wet and windy afternoon, Hal is trying to do his homework in his mother's deserted café as the family's two black workers, Sam and Willy, scrub the floors, practice their quickstep and share their daydreams about better times. Premiered in the US in 1982, Master Harold and the Boys was voted one of the Top 50 most significant plays of the 20th century in a millennial poll conducted by the National Theatre.

Later in the month, Treatment Theatre Company will revive Fugard's earlier piece Hello and Goodbye at London's Southwark Playhouse, where it runs from 14 October to 1 November 2003. The new production will star Zubin Varla (Jesus Christ Superstar, Midnight's Children and Tracy-Ann Oberman (currently appearing opposite Kenneth Branagh in Edmond), directed by Paul Robinson.

Written in 1965, Hello and Goodbye finds Johnnie alone at home in squalor when a near-stranger - his sister Hester - arrives. In one tense and desperate night, sibling reunion evokes bitter childhood memories.

Both plays are set in Fugard's native Port Elizabeth, on the south coast of South Africa. His other plays include My Children! My Africa!, A Place with the Pigs, Playland, The Road to Mecca, Sizwe Banzi Is Dead and The Island, which recently had extended seasons at the National and in the West End with its original 1973 African stars John Kani and Winston Ntshona.

- by Terri Paddock


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