Haverstock Series: Review: A Lesson from Aloes

Haverstock Journalism Club

 A review of the Athol Fugard play A Lesson from Aloes, directed by Dame Janet Suzman.

Haverstock is a co-educational school in Camden Town, North London. Producing political heavyweights including the likes of Ed Miliband, it is not a school that should be cantankerously dismissed. Students are engaged, well informed and mean business. This is the latest in a series of contributions from their students.


A Lesson from Aloes by Athol Fugard is slow to start but has hilarious moments and then develops into a play filled with twists and turns that kept us on the edge of our seats. The story is set in South Africa in 1963, and at first focuses on retired bus driver Afrikaner Piet (who became aware of the plight of the Coloured population and was inspired to join the ANC). His wife, Gladys, has been severely traumatised after their house was raided by the South African Police in the middle of the night.

Piet is now a failed farmer and he and his wife live in the middle of the desert. He has developed a fascination for the Aloe Vera plant species, that can adapt to any condition and he relates to this situation.

The Farewell Supper is for his best friend Steve who has been recently released from a five year prison sentence for attending an anti-apartheid rally. Suspicions and tensions climax when his friend Steve arrives announces he is leaving with his family for England.

A Lesson from Aloes gives an insight into South Africa and the hidden cost and dilemmas facing the people who supported the fight to end apartheid, to either stay and help end the apartheid or put the safety of their families first.

Dawid Minnaar as Piet, David Rubin as Steve and Janine Ulfane as Gladys give performances that made us go away and think. The set and costumes by Norman Coates and lighting by the legendary South African lighting designer created an atmosphere of trapped isolation.

The performance we saw was a full house but if you can get tickets go!


By Yusuf Year 10



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