South African State Theatre
From 31 July 2014 to 25 August 2014
Review by Philip Fisher
Silent Voice is a deceptively clever theatrical piece that combines an exciting story of gangsters on the run after a botched robbery that turns into murder with some meaningful commentary about life for the underclass in South Africa today.
Produced by the South African State Theatre, the play, first seen in 1998, starts in intentionally chaotic fashion as the robbery is disrupted by the arrival of the police after which all hell breaks loose.
The quartet of Charlies (a coincidence or a convenience?) then goes on the run—literally.
For the next hour or so, we observe as they bicker and worse, at one point, threatening to take the audience hostage in one of the more chilling experiences that is available on the Fringe this year.
While all of the action that one expects from this genre is going on, the four men each have opportunities to establish independent identities and justify their lives of crime, quickly dividing into two different pairings: the psychos and the impoverished. To be fair, at times, each person threatens to switch category as their histories emerge.
Aubrey Sekhabi has written a high-class drama featuring a talented cast of Presley Chweneyagae, star of the Oscar-winning movie Tsotsi, Zenzo Ngqobe, Boitumelo ‘Chuck’ Shisana and Tumelo Don Mosenye, supplemented by a drummer who injects added atmosphere, as does a barely-lit, semi-industrial set.
The result is a special piece of theatre that amuses and challenges in equal measure.