Although the play stems from and has its roots in the context of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, it does not, unlike its coevals Ubu and the Truth Commission and The Story I Am About To Tell (with which it was shown at The Laboratory in Johannesburg's Market Theatre), embrace it directly. It is also, unlike the other two, built along traditional theatrical lines.
Audiences were generally and genuinely touched by the play. "A friend was deeply moved by the Dead Wait," recalled William Kentridge, "the play about the war in Angola. He had served as a soldier in that war.