Anacostia Playhouse hosts “dog days of summer theater festival” this August 2015 and for its mid-August show they have Solomon and Marion, Lara Foot Newton’s touching drama about the search for reconciliation in Post-Apartheid South Africa.
Seen at the Kennedy Center in 2014, Solomon and Marion gives us Solomon, a young black South African coming of age in a democratic South Africa, a democratic South Africa ravaged by violence, political stagnation, and a deepening economic divide between the “haves” and the “have nots” (If that sounds familiar it is because it is a world wide problem with no solutions in sight).
Directed skillfully by Lisa Hodsoll, Solomon and Marion presents an arena of memory, a thrust staging surrounded by family photographs. We are in the home of Marion, a South African of English descent, played stoically by Claire Schoonover.
Following the tragic murder of her son, her subsequent divorce from her academic husband, and her daughter’s marriage and transplanting to Australia, Marion has embraced her loneliness as some might snuggle their alcohol.
Each morning she rises and waits for death.
Her nearest neighbors are the Xhosa, the people from whon in times past Marian hired her servants. Now, they wait for a time when the government will fulfill its promises and return their ancestral homeland.
Marion’s home rest firmly on such ground: her life is in danger.
Enter Solomon, that young South African with a terrible secret, a secret he must splay open for the world to see if he is ever to heal.
Clayton Pelham plays Solomon with an eerie vulnerability, wavering between explosive anger and deep regret.
As Solomon moves closer to health, Marion finds her own recovery, and the resulting sparks between the two characters, both emotionally gripping and insightful, serve as windows into the larger issue of societal reconciliation surrounding the characters.
This no frills production truly allows the story of Solomon and Marion to shine forth, and that story is as topical and it is timeless. It is also a play with deep historical roots. Those roots might not resonate across the ocean, but the tale of two lost people finding some bittersweet joy in each other surely does.
Solomon and Marion has one more performance on Sunday, August 16, 2015 @ 7:30 pm
Running Time: 80 minutes, without an intermission.