‘Why is it easier to speak to a stranger than it is to my own daughter?’ Rosa, an elderly woman approaching the end of her life, asks Stella, a Nigerian immigrant reluctantly involved in South Africa’s drug trade. The answer to this question gradually unravels as Nicholas Spagnoletti’s play explores the compassionate relationship which develops between these two characters.
A raid on Stella’s apartment serves as the catalyst for their first interaction and Rosa insists that her new acquaintance temporarily stay with her until the apparent danger subsides. In between card games and sipping liquor, they begin to share memories of their past; nostalgic storytelling is upheld as a remedy to isolation and loneliness.
The two actors deliver fine performances. With stuttering breath and a screechy high-pitched tone, Robyn Scott depicts Rosa’s mannerisms in both a comical and touching fashion. Indeed, you’ll be hard pushed to hear such a distinct and infectious voice whilst at the Fringe. Ntombi Makhutshi has a considerable presence on stage, instilling notable vigour into the part of Stella through the use of witty gesticulation.
However, Spagnoletti’s script provides only one moment of narrative tension (two drug lords knock firmly on Rosa’s apartment in search of Stella) and subsequently the piece loses the element of suspense. In-spite of the tender, well-felt dialogue, the text requires a further investigation into the web of Stella’s disposition and, by doing so, would place greater emphasis on Rosa’s conclusive act of kindness and love.
Questions regarding immigration lurk in the backdrop and are not only relevant in regard to the context of the play but could be interpolated as an implicit comment on current political discourse, either in Cape Town or Whitehall.
Still, the true strength of London Road, Sea Point is the way in which both female actors beautifully convey the unexpected possibilities which new friendship can bring.