The Unflinching Voice of Moffie

June 12, 2024

Directed by Greg Karvellas, "Moffie" at Riverside Studios unfolds through a haunting monologue by Nicholas van der Swart, brought to life with remarkable depth by Kai Luke Brümmer. Based on André Carl van der Merwe's novel, it tells Nicholas van der Swart's poignant and heart-wrenching journey. Drafted into the South African Defence Force in 1979, Nicholas faces a harsh reality that enforces absolute conformity, hyper-masculinity, and sheer intolerance for the slightest deviation from the norm.

South African actor Kai Luke Brümmer (Image: Daniel Rutland Manners)

Brümmer's portrayal is nothing short of remarkable. Primarily a solo performance, Brümmer impressively portrays a multitude of characters. His seamless transitions between Nicholas and the other soldiers, officers, and even his mother maintain the audience's captivation over the 85-minute runtime. 

He adeptly navigates through Nicholas' various life stages, from an innocent boy to a seasoned soldier wrestling with his identity. The audience is pulled into his internal conflict as Brümmer skillfully reveals the extent of Nicholas' anguish, bewilderment, and the constant dread of being discovered as a "moffie" - a derogatory term for a gay man in Afrikaans.

Image: Daniel Rutland Manners

The minimalist set, featuring a black backdrop and a cluster of canvas army boxes, highlights Nicholas's profound isolation. Accompanying this visual bleakness, Charl-Johan Lingenfelder's evocative soundscape enriches the narrative, fluidly shifting the audience through different locales while intensifying the emotional resonance of the performance.

Moffie is not an easy watch, but it's a necessary one. It's a powerful exploration of identity, the devastating impact of societal expectations, and the lingering scars of apartheid. The play confronts the audience with the harsh realities of a brutal regime, forcing us to confront the dehumanizing effects of toxic masculinity and the enduring trauma inflicted on individuals and society.

Brümmer's performance is compelling throughout. His capacity to engage the audience with an enthralling narrative throughout the show underscores his impressive talent. This production is a heartrending, unforgettable exploration of profound themes anchored by a stellar performance.

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