Set in a tiny South African community in 1974, Athol Fugard’s three-actor The Road to Mecca, running at Main Stage West, was inspired by the life of Afrikaans artist Helen Martins, but takes fictional flights of fancy as fanciful as the cement sculptures of owls and camels Martins surrounded her house with.
Martins (Laura Jorgensen) a lapsed Christian, is feeling the encroaching darkness that first inspired her to fill her yard with such self-made creatures, and to cram her home with mirrors, mosaics and candles. Frail and uncertain, Helen considers relocating to a church-run retirement home, a move supported by her one-time minister, Marius (John Craven), who secretly loves her and worries about her soul. Opposing the notion is Martins’ schoolteacher friend Elsa (Ilana Niernberger), a strong supporter of Martins and a fierce opponent of the church, who arrives from the city in a state of deep sadness and barely controlled rage, the reasons for which take most of the play to reveal themselves.
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