In Paul Van Zyl's "Stillborn," a new play at the Skylight written in collaboration with Andrew Buckland, a young man named Derek arrives at Mike's apartment somewhere in South Africa to "fetch Evelyn," Mike's sister, for a date.
While waiting for her to appear, they strike up a conversation. Derek is diffident but composed, his First Date manners in place. Mike looks contrastingly strung out and is agitated to the point of near-rowdiness. Soon we learn that Mike is an Army veteran showing sure signs of the post-combat stress syndrome we've seen in many American vets of the Vietnam war--the psychological disarray that follows having put your life on the line for a cause you don't believe in (the South African government sends its Army conscripts to fight its border wars), and the guilt-ridden entrapment of recalling the butchery of war and sensing that, no matter which way you turn, you're somewhere in the wrong.
There are some powerful themes at large in "Stillborn" including a suggestion of the ambivalence of men and combat, but the play is written in an allusive, elliptical style more in tune with mannered American naturalism than the passionate clarity characteristic of the best of South African theater.