Undone

Undone is dense, tenacious and at times almost frightening. It is perhaps what can be described as Marmite theatre (other breakfast spreads are available): it will by no means appeal to everyone but for some - those who quite like feeling disturbed - it will really hit the spot.

Wessel Pretorius, writer and star of this one man show, presents the affecting story of ‘Boy’, opening his performance naked in a tin bath tub. Boy is born into a dysfunctional family consisting of an overbearing father, a disintegrating mother and an egocentric older brother. Each of these personas appear on cue from thin air at the twist of an imaginary lipstick case or the donning of a leather jacket. This is particularly impressive considering Pretorius is wearing only a pair of white pants. Even more impressive is the masterful depiction of the relationships through time, which manages ingeniously to make the piece’s lack of chronology a source of insight rather than confusion.

Undone has a poetry to it, both in its script and its physicality. For many, this is bewitching, but for others the interlaced sensuality, religion, and literary references may make the piece less accessible. It has, however, been well adapted for its new British audience. Produced in South Africa, Afrikaaner cultural heritage originally featured prominently; here, familiar British verse has been interjected successfully. This erudite element links in with the lyrical nature of Pretorius’s writing and forms one of many tiers on which he explores the psychological processes of the show’s family.

Ultimately, Pretorius’ stage presence is the factor which provides Undone’s main driving force. He makes the piece achingly, terrifyingly personal. Boy has a bitter, sarcastic voice; he speaks to the audience and produces the characters of his family to showcase his point. His story is something like a play within a play: Boy narrates himself, announces the acts, and even reads out the author’s notes. It feels wholly autobiographical and the effect is haunting. It was not until I sat down to write this that it even occurred to me that I might not have been told a true story: audience disbelief is not just suspended; it is murdered, buried, and forgotten about altogether.

One minor point is that the amount of swearing makes this PG rating absurd. If you think you can handle this, alongside an emotional rollercoaster, then you will love it.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

The Blurb

Winner of eight South African theatre awards. ‘Exquisitely beautiful’ ***** (Krit). A man soaks in a bath, surveying his inheritance: mother's pearls, father's jacket, a worn suitcase, as he journeys to adulthood with breathtaking words and evocative physicality.

Most Popular See More

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mary Poppins

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets