New Louis Viljoen play, The Visigoths, premieres at the Baxter


AWARD-WINNING playwright and director Louis Viljoen’s new thrilling offering, The Visigoths, will keep you transfixed at every suspenseful twist and turn at the Baxter’s Masambe Theatre from 6 to 24 June 2023. 

Newly released from prison, Roth returns home to bury his mother. Upon returning from the funeral, Roth encounters Theo, a young man whose life he saved years earlier. Theo makes an impossible request and Roth weighs up the consequences if he were to take Theo up on his appeal. What follows is a harrowing conversation about the lengths people will go to seek revenge, the unlikely moments of grace in a cruel world, and the decisions that put one’s soul at hazard. 

Recently described by John Maytham as “one of South Africa’s most exciting playwrights”, Viljoen’s riveting writing is known for its terrifying intimacy, with Marianne Thamm praising him for his “scalpel-wielding writing” that “kicks boring English into shape”. His ghoulish style of theatre has kept audiences enthralled in career highlights, CHAMP, The Pervert Laura, The Kingmakers, The Hucksters, The Outlaw Muckridge and The Grass Widow, and promises the same suspenseful exhilaration with The Visigoths.

Fast-paced and wordy, it takes true-grit actors to tackle Viljoen’s plays. This time around, award-winning actors Nicholas Pauling and Daniel Newton take up the gauntlet, stepping into the roles of Roth and Theo as they unpack the gut-wrenching consequences of one misguided, soul obliterating decision many years ago.

Pauling is no stranger to the world of Viljoen, having starred in past acclaimed productions such as CHAMP, The Frontiersmen, The Pervert Laura and The Hucksters. He has been heralded by theatre critic Beverley Brommert as one of the few actors who has the polish and talent to tackle the articulate quality of dialogue associated with a Viljoen play, with his performance in The Hucksters praised as being “utterly engaging”. 

Newton may be a newcomer to the Viljoen scene, but he will fit right in after recently impressing audiences with his biting style of theatre, making his writing and directorial debut with The Rangers. He also snagged a Fleur Du Cap Theatre Award for best one-person performance at this year’s award ceremony for his heart-wrenching performance in Shadow Boxing.  

After the phenomenal success of their recent collaboration, The Grass Widow, Viljoen again teams up with talented designer Kieran McGregor to create the dark and disturbing world in which The Visigoths duel it out. This will be McGregor’s third project working alongside Viljoen, having also done the design for the Viljoen penned The Eulogists.

The harrowing stand-off between Roth and Theo may not be for the marginally sensitive or the easily offended, but for those in the mood for something dark and dangerous, The Visigoths stand ready to cunningly lure you into their deceitful desolation. 

The Visigoths will be on stage at the Baxter Theatre Centre’s Masambe Theatre from 6 – 24 June 2023. It carries an age restriction of 18 years for explicit language and scenes of a sexual nature. Tickets are available online through Webtickets at R170 per person. Click here for more information.

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