Harold and the Boys work magic

master harold
Sam demonstrates his ballroom dancing moves to the young Harold. Andrew Humann, L. Peter Callender, Adrian Roberts (courtesy of Aurora’s website)

Afrikaner playwright Athol Fugard wrote often about the effects of Apartheid. “Master Harold”. . . and the boys, set in 1950 South Africa, was initially banned in his home country, no doubt for daring to expose the poor treatment of the black majority by the white Afrikaners in power.

Fugard’s first name is actually Harold, and the play is autobiographical. It captures a moment from Fugard’s teen years that he always regretted. His mother ran St. George’s Park Tea Room, just as the title character’s mother does in the play. And, like Harold, Fugard was close to the two black men who worked for his mother. One of them, Sam, practically raised Fugard, whose father was disabled. L. Peter Callender’s rendition of Sam is heartbreaking and is alone worth the price of admission.

“I wrote the play, I suppose at one level, in an attempt to try to understand how and why I am the man that I am.”

-Athol Fugard

Emotions run high in Aurora’s production–gasps and tears were plentiful–but the audience is in good hands with the excellent cast that also includes Adrian Roberts as Willie and Andrew Humann as Fugard’s younger stand-in. It was no surprise that the audience expressed appreciation with a hearty standing ovation.

If you have the chance to see “Master Harold”. . . and the boys, directed by Timothy Near, do so.

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