South Africa. David Lurie, a twice-divorced 52-year-old lecturer at a technical university in Cape Town, becomes romantically involved with one of his students and is heard by a disciplinary board. He confesses to the affair, loses his job, and flees to his daughter Lucy, who runs a farm in the countryside.
Then, he and Lucy are brutally attacked by a group of black men. They rape Lucy, but she chooses not to report this to the police. Later, after discovering she is pregnant with the child of one of the attackers, she decides against an abortion. Unlike her father, whose norms and values are rooted in the past, she is very much a child of the new South Africa, and realises that she must learn to deal with the harsh realities of survival. She is even willing to marry her black neighbour Petrus and to give up her piece of land in return for his protection: ‘Perhaps that is what I must learn to accept… to start at ground level. With nothing.’ Her father cannot come to terms with her decision.
Already having fallen into disgrace as an academic, Lurie now finds himself unable to protect his daughter. The chasm between the old and the new world is simply too wide: ‘I don’t know what the question is any more. Between Lucy’s generation and mine, a curtain seems to have fallen. I didn’t even notice when it fell.’
Gijs Scholten van Aschat
Text J.M. Coetzee
Adaptation Josse Depauw
Direction Luk Perceval
Scenography Katrin Brack
Costumes Ilse Vandenbussche
Lighting design Mark Vandenesse
Dramaturgy Peter van Kraaij