Act 1, Scene 1
A Lesson From Aloes opens in the backyard of Piet and Gladys Bezuidenhout’s home in South Africa in 1963. Piet is seated in front of an aloe plant, reading aloud from a book on the subject, trying to identify his specific plant but not having any luck. Gladys sits nearby. After he tells her that if this is a new species, he will name it after her, he then begins a brief monologue on the importance of names, quoting from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to help prove his point.
Gladys claims that time is passing slowly that afternoon as they wait for their friend Steve and his family to come for dinner. Piet asks if everything is ready in the kitchen for them, and Gladys tells him it is. He tells her to relax then and enjoy the lovely autumn weather, but she is worried about getting sunburned. When Piet returns with her sun hat, she appears anxious and goes into the house to confirm that she put away her diary.
Piet again turns his attention to his aloe, insisting that he must not neglect it. He asks Gladys whether they have enough food, noting that Steve is bringing his wife and four children. Her response that food is “not going to be the problem” reveals her apprehension about their arrival. When Piet tries to calm her by reminding her that they are friends, Gladys claims that she is “out of practice” and is worried about coming up with conversation, noting that they have been the...
(The entire section is 1984 words.)
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