At 80, South African playwright Athol Fugard is still turning out plays at a rate that would be daunting for a dramatist half his age. A crucial witness to the warping effect of apartheid on his country's soul, Fugard has continued in the post-apartheid era to track the difficult moral journey of characters heeding and resisting the national imperative of reconciliation.

His latest play, "The Blue Iris," receiving its U.S. premiere at the Fountain Theatre, is in keeping with the distilled, backward-looking, frankly mournful style that has dominated his late works. It shares with "The Train Driver" — produced at the Fountain, Fugard's Los Angeles home, in 2010 — a brooding over past injustices, public and private, rooted in the very soil of this hard, majestic land.