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Playwright: Fred Abrahamse & Marcel Meyer

Direction &  Set Design: Fred Abrahamse

Costume Design: Marcel Meyer

Lighting Design: Faheem Bardien

Photography: Fiona MacPherson

Cast: Matthew Baldwin, Marcel Meyer and Lungile Lallie

Venue: Artscape Arena March/April 2022

About: Contested Bodies or Doctor James Barry, Lord Charles Somerset and I explores themes of power, race, gender identity and masculinity (toxic and otherwise).

The play centres on the relationship between acclaimed surgeon, Doctor James Barry, his African manservant, John and the then, Governor of the Cape Colony, Lord Charles Henry Somerset. Barry lived his entire adult life as a man but was named Margret Ann at birth and was known as female in childhood. Barry’s biological sex only became widely known to the public and his colleagues after his death in 1865.

In Contested Bodies, things get down and dirty in the Governor’s residence when the three men decide, as part of their evening’s entertainment, to enact a lewd and lascivious play penned by the ultimate libertine and provocateur, the salacious Marquis de Sade. The enactment of the De Sade play reveals many unspoken truths and recalibrates the men’s friendship and relationship with each other.

What the Press Said:

“Absolutely ESSENTIAL theatre…” Litnet

 “a flawless piece of theatre” The Cape Robyn

 “nothing short of admirable” Weekend Special

“Matthew Baldwin is a tour de force as he embodies Barry”

“a riveting play- a howl for accountability and acceptance.”

“a mind-flip of a play which is darkly humorous – and funny and fun”

“Watch out for Marcel Meyer’s wow of a Richard III cameo”

“an epic play of marvel, revulsion, rage and at the same time, fabulously entertaining.”

“Fred Abrahamse’s direction is a masterclass”

“The cast of three is breath-taking. Matthew Baldwin, Marcel Meyer and Lungile Lallie deliver multi nuanced performances which are each worthy of awards.”

“Contested Bodies eviscerates and challenges its audience with the manifold density of its content and its startling presentation.”

“The three actors offer superlative, organic ensemble with finely calibrated power balancing each performance.”

“Abrahamse’s deft direction ensures that no one is upstaged”

“The script sparkles and enthrals” Die Burger

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