4/25/2013 2:46 AM
The Road to Mecca by Athol Fugard was the winner of the 1988 New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Foreign Play. This work is about a South African artist struggling to create art in a community afraid and distrustful of her eccentricity and creative drive.
The Road to Mecca has a very traditional climatic play structure. The entire play happened within one evening, with events unfolding in chronological order. The work was psychological realism.
As in all of Fugard’s work, The Road to Mecca’s dialogue is very colloquial and naturalistic. The exposition was given very gradually. Although an exemplary work of drama, at some times the text was almost verbose, with character’s reveling more back story then necessary, overtly stating what could have been implied in the subtext, as well as, long monologues that were too long to feel completely colloquial or natural, even if beautifully, poetically, and thoughtfully written.
Fugard very successfully utilized symbolism in The Road to Mecca. Candles were used to represent how art or enlightenment, could ward away darkness or ignorance and cruelty, such as the darkness the main protagonist experienced in the village.
Fugard tackled various important themes in The Road to Mecca. His work was a discourse of life in a small South African Village. His work asked broader existential questions about why humans are compelled to make art and what is art's purpose. His work questioned the value of organized religion, and other ways humanity could experience spiritual fulfillment, such as through art. He presented, very non-judgmentally and empathetically, important female issues such as abortion, and traditional roles of women in this community. He explored important issues of how we view and treat the elderly. His ability to weave so many pertinent themes into one story was exceptional. The piece explored important issues, but was predominately about the characters. This choice to make the work about the individuals and not the issues gave the work a greater emotional resonance.
The Road to Mecca is a very successfully rendered play. The world of the play was completely believable, with fully fleshed characters. The themes presented in the play promoted questions, but not answers to the audience, making this work rich source material for discourse and reflection.