Reza de Wet

Riverside Studios, London - September, 2000

It is 1930. In the isolated north of South Africa two sisters, the severe Hermien and hump-backed Sussie, live in a cottage by a fast-flowing river, offering travellers refuge and warning of the dangers of trying to cross the river when it is high. The sisters see it as their duty to retrieve and bury the bodies of those who fail to take their heed, not least because they are haunted by the restless spirit of those who do not find rest in a named grave.

So it proves with Esmerelda, the beautiful, unstable assistant of a hypnotist, The Maestro, who drags her unwillingly round the country putting on shows for the rough mining communities of "diggers" who are chasing their own dreams of gold.

Twenty years previously, the pair stopped by the cottage ona wild night, ignored Hermien's advice not to cross the river and disappeared into the water. Now Esmerelda's wailing is keeping the sisters awake at night.

As the past influences the present, the sister's seance raises the spirits of the dead giving life to the different variations on the themes of love, dependency, hate and the desire to escape creating a world of tremendous power, a world that is both familiar and strange, ordinary and magical and the surface of which is similar to the deceptively calm river under which terrible currents rage.