Drama I Have Life – Alison’s Journey: a review of Maralin Vanrenen’s stage adaptation

I Have Life – Alison’s Journey: a review of Maralin Vanrenen’s stage adaptation

A stage adaptation of “I Have Life – Alison’s Journey” opened at Victoria Theatre on Thursday, 2 July and was received with a standing ovation.

The theatre piece is based on the well-known story of Alison Botha; a woman who was brutally raped and left for dead by two attackers in Port Elizabeth. Following Botha’s attack, she published a best-selling book titled “I Have Life” (as told to Marianne Thamm).

Theatre Excellence

Described by the audience as “real” and “uplifting”, I Have Life deserves the highest praise. Suanne Braun’s portrayal of Alison Botha is outstanding. So convincing is Braun’s acting, that after the show, several inspired audience members flocked to her, praising her and addressing her as ‘Alison’.

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Suanne Braun plays Alison Botha in Vanrenen’s theatre adaptation of I Have Life

The stage adaptation is crisp – evocative and horrifying in the right places, but also, moving. Despite the fact that I Have Life deals with the painful subject of rape, there was a good dose of humour injected into the piece. Director Maralin Vanrenen’s choice to add light-hearted moments reflects her desire to portray Alison’s truth, which includes Alison’s sense of humour.

Skilful scripting

Vanrenen’s seamless directing ensures that the audience is hooked from the start. It should not be overlooked that Vanrenen is able to bring to life a play, using a narrative mostly comprised of Alison Botha’s thoughts as a basis. Achieving this is a testament to Vanrenen’s creativity and dedication to detail.

Including excerpts from Alison Botha’s motivational speeches in the script, I Have Life tackles common myths about rape and rape victims. The play sensitively highlights various aspects of the trauma of sexual violence, such as depression, loss of self-confidence and anger. In this way, the play is a vehicle for Alison Botha’s story to reach victims of all types of sexual violence: encouraging them to take charge of their futures.

Audience discussion

The opening show was followed by an audience discussion, curated by a City Press journalist. In the discussion, members of the audience expressed how profound they found the narrative. One audience member, a social worker with 2 decades of experience, said that the play needs to be shown in different communities around South Africa.

Several people agreed that the play was a necessary one, which aptly highlights the plight of women in society. Maralin Vanrenen says, the intention of the play was to show how it “is the responsibility of us all to change the state of society” when it comes to the issue of violence against women.

Gorata Chengeta
Cue Reporter

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