King of the Dump and Other Plays

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Review by Sbu Mjikeliso WINDHOEK If you have not heard of Freddy Philander or have heard of him but haven’t read his latest book, King of the dump, I suggest you don’t turn the page just yet. For the theatre and literature faithfuls, who criticise and appreciate the art of storytelling, there is no greater aphrodisiac than the smell of freshly cut paper smothered in raw ink. Philander delivers this delicacy on a 208-page platter. The book is a compilation of plays written by Philander that gives you a sense of the experiences that the man has gathered over the years. The book was published in 2005 and follows three previous stage works. The most obvious observation that jumps out to the reader is that Philander wears his heart in his sleeve. There are a few and unique mediums out there in the world that let people express their inner feelings while entertaining others. The author has exploited this medium to ensure, if your eye is cunning enough, that you don’t miss the expressions of happiness, sorrow, serenity and often insanity that hide behind the obtrusive figure of “Big Freddy”. The plays monotonously tell the story of a people caught between two perceptible races, which were regarded as intruders. Political correctness would have ruined the crude feel of the subordinate plots, thus the blunt massages conveyed through these plays make these stage works worth reading. Somewhat disappointing is the lack of cunning imaginative dialogue. The words settle into a rhythm that could get the reader predicting the next line. The stories, which give the feeling that they evolved from short stories, represent a people who are paced on the wrong end of society’s class rope. “The porridge queen” and “The teacher” possess direct references and illusions to the historical moment of change in Namibia. On the technical aspects, the plays are well rounded in terms of their capacity to be portrayed on stage. The stage directions are not pedantic. Instead they employ simplicity as a tool to get the reader to picture the scene on stage. Mediocrity tends to creep into some of the scenes; however, the whole book is a lovely compilation of original and rooted stories. The book does not lack that humorous element and overall, I give the author two thumbs up for the ability to compose an enjoyable piece of literature, which will hopefully inspire directors to portray it on stage.