He Left Quietly is the factual testimonial of Duma Joshua Kumalo, a South African black man wrongfully accused of murder. After spending several weeks on death row, with only half a day left before he’s to face the gallows, Duma is granted a stay of execution. Playing at this year’s SummerWorks Festival, Theatre Hetaerae‘s production is visceral and raw.
He Left Quietly focuses on Duma (Conrad Coates) as he recalls the weeks he spent imprisoned on death row, placed there by the 1984 “common purpose” law that allowed a conviction for being in the vicinity of a crime. Tawiah M’Carthy weaves in and out as the young Duma living out those horrific times. Bridging the two worlds is the Woman (Aviva Armour-Ostroff) whose presence is seen throughout the performance as she seamlessly takes on numerous roles.
Through Coates and M’Carthy, the audience is taken on a journey through the rigorous, militant schedule that the inmates endure, the way they are treated by the guards and fellow inmates alike, and the kind of lunacy that befalls them when they are constantly monitored, kept in solitary, and forced to sleep with the overhead lights blaring down.
The storytelling in this production is out of this world — biting, shocking and uncomfortable in the best possible ways. The lighting by Andrew Griffin, projections by Michael F Bergmann, and sounds by Kate Marvin further deliver the experience exceptionally. Hats off to the production team lead by director Leora Morris for a fine job.
The dual portrayal of Duma by Coates and M’Carthy are what makes this show. There’s a depth of character and humility in Coates’ retelling of his past that speaks of having lived through hellish times. As well an erratic, uninhibited quality to M’Carthy’s portrayal as these moments are what he actively endures.
An audience advisory warning is in effect for herbal cigarette smoking, nudity, coarse language and strobe lighting. If none of these bother you and you’re up for a dose of heavy-duty, eye-opening, intense theatre during this year’s SummerWorks Festival, you’ll want to add He Left Quietly to your “must see” list.
He Left Quietly is playing at the Lower Ossington Theatre Studio (100 Ossington Ave)
Friday August 8, 5:00pm
Saturday August 9, 3:00pm
Sunday August 10, 2:30pm
Tuesday August 12, 8:30pm
Thursday August 14, 5:30pm
Friday August 15, 7:30pm
Saturday August 16, 1:00pm
All individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online, By phone by calling the Ticketwise Call Centre at 416-907-0468, in person at the SummerWorks Info Booth – located at The Theatre Centre (1115 Queen Street West) August 5th-17th from 10AM – 7PM (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee)
Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows