dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
Two lives colliding in post-apartheid South Africa
It's post-apartheid South Africa and Marion lives on her own in the middle of nowhere mourning her lost husband and son.
When a young black man appears at her door Marion's first thought is that he has come to murder her. Even when Solomon reveals that he is the son of her former servant and she remembers him as a young child Marion assumes he has come for money or food.
But Solomon has come for something on a much more fundamental level – a kind of reconciliation.
Janet Suzman and Khayalethu Anthony in Solomon and Marion
An unlikely friendship develops but even within this relationship there are fractures and misunderstandings. Fearing that Marion will fall victim to the violence which has erupted in South Africa, Solomon urges her to leave and live with her daughter. Marion fears that his concern is based less on her well-being and more on a desire to take her property.
It is these misunderstandings which reveal the fractures in the new society. Official apartheid may have gone but fear, distrust and prejudice remain at the heart of the South Africa depicted in this play.
The role of Marion is taken by Janet Suzman who captures the bitterness and isolation of a life now filled with emptiness. Marion's losses consume her so that she is unable to move on and is simply waiting to die. Despite this, Marion retains a somewhat bitter sense of humour which evokes laughter from an audience who can appreciate her irony.
Janet Suzman and Marion
Khayalethu Anthony as Solomon is a blend of honesty and dishonesty who leaves the audience uncertain of his motives. Is he visiting Marion because he genuinely cares about this lonely old lady or does he have a more sinister purpose in mind?
When the moment of truth comes we see how two lives can be dramatically altered in a few moments. But the reality behind this is that two very different lives and life experiences resulted in this catastrophe. Both Solomon and Marion's fates are part of the story of South Africa.
Produced by Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Baxter Theatre Centre and The Print Room, Solomon and Marion does, though, show that renewal is possible.
Performed at Birmingham Rep until November 1, the production is then staged at The Print Room in London on November 4-29.