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A quiet truth spoken loudly

Nothing But The Truth at Northern Stage until May 5 - Sometimes the most resounding truths are spoken quietly and that's the case here.

Nothing But The Truth at Northern Stage until May 5

Sometimes the most resounding truths are spoken quietly and that's the case here.

John Kani's play has three characters, a simple set (a domestic interior in Port Elizabeth, South Africa), no filmed backdrop, no fancy music and it doesn't last a lot more than 90 minutes.

But the story it tells is intensely moving and will stay with you longer than many a glitzy parade of showstoppers.

And its central performance - by John Kani himself - is one of those you really won't want to miss if you enjoy great acting. It is full of dignity and plain humanity. In South Africa, even Nelson Mandela was moved.

Sipho Makhaya (Kani) is a librarian who lives with his daughter Thando (Motshabi Tyelele).

We meet them awaiting the arrival of Sipho's niece, Mandisa Mackay (Rosie Motene), who is flying in with the body of her late father, Sipho's brother Temba.

Sipho has made arrangements for the funeral of the feted activist brother whom he hasn't seen since he went into exile in Britain.

But things take an unexpected turn. Mandisa arrives not with a body but with the cremated remains of Temba in a plastic jar.

This is just the first step in a mounting sense of discomfort as the thoroughly liberated (and Anglicised) Mendisa, a fashion student, spreads her presence around the Makhaya home.

Insensitively she questions the process of truth and reconciliation which allowed criminals amnesty, post-apartheid.

And in due course uncomfortable truths come out about the true relationship between the two brothers.

Can truth and reconciliation also work in a domestic situation? I urge you to go and find out.

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