The Great Outdoors

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The Great Outdoors is a play by Neil McCarthy (2000). Best New Play, Vita Awards 2001.


The primary focus is on ordinary South Africans facing their own fallibility and living with guilt and fear in the new South Africa. The central character is a car salesman who, driving home, runs over and kills a drunk man from a squatter camp. With the help of a former army colleague, now an officer in the police force, they cover it up. But the price is a Faustian arrangement requiring the salesman to allow the police major to sleep with his wife.

Prominent theatre critic Robert Greig described this play as “A mountain of South African theatre - one of the most complex and mature plays written in this country in the past two decades, it makes others look infantile” (2001).

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

2000-2001: Premièred at the Grahamstown Festival, directed by Barbara Rubin, with Neil McCarthy, Jamie Bartlett, Leila Henriques and Debbie Brown. The same production was staged at the Agfa Theatre on the Square in Sandton in April 2001.

2002: Produced in the Square Space Theatre on the University of Natal campus, directed by Maurice Podbrey, with Ben Voss, Tamar Meskin, Esmael Teixeira and Belinda Henwood in April 2002.

2002: Staged at the Baxter Theatre in August 2002, directed by Maurice Podbrey, with Jamie Bartlett, Terry Norton, Adrian Galley and Victoria Bartlett.


Business Day, 3 May 2001.

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