And the Girls in Their Sunday Dresses

Zakes Mda

Market Theatre

Assembly George Square

From 01 August 2012 to 27 August 2012

Rating: ****

Review by Philip Fisher

And the Girls in Their Sunday Dresses presents a slice of African life that, though deprived, seems quite joyous, partly because of the song and dance injected into Princess Mhlongo’s production for Johannesburg’s Market Theatre. It helps to have two really accomplished actresses in Lesego Motsepe and Hlengiwe Lushaba.

The two-hander starts with a pair of African women in the fourth day of a potentially interminable vigil waiting for an allocation of rice.

They are chalk and cheese: Lady is an overweight, ageing (and therefore rarely employed) prostitute. Her new friend, Woman, is a domestic, making a bare living by cleaning white women’s houses.

For just over an hour, as they abase themselves, curse and wait, their life histories unfold.

Lady dropped out of university to marry a foreigner, who got her with ungrateful child and then disappeared. Woman had a pretty similar experience with an unfaithful white boss. 

Together, the pair build into a kind of composite African Everywoman, with a well-developed sense of humour. Thus, we get an insight into the lives of the unsung in a country where the underclass really is under.