2022 - Winner
This is a vital and deeply impressive piece of playwriting. The play is set in the fictional, sunny suburb of Paradise. Zadie, home alone with her parents back in Johannesburg, needs to deal with the cute boy next door, white neighbours obsessed with her frizzy hair, an unexpected visitor, and the mysterious case of someone pelting oranges at the house, night after night. The characters are full of life and the plotting is precise.
On one hand, this is a simple, suburban coming-of-age story. But the play bounces off this familiar territory to gives us an utterly original story with characters that are engagingly idiosyncratic in a landscape unfamiliar on the Australian stage. The play gives us comedy and mystery, budding sexuality and unrequited love, all wrapped up in what is really a loving tribute to the power and perseverance of South African women.
The play stands out through its enthralling transformation of the ordinary into the extraordinary, and its urgent, astute and magical examination of the self in the world. The play teems with life and insight. It is a major achievement.