Woza Albert!

Percy Mtwa, Mbongeni Ngema and Barney Simon
Market Theatre, Johannesburg
Assembly Hall

It will not be too long before, like everything else, South Africa’s heinous Apartheid regime is a mere topic for history books rather than something that everyone vividly remembers as happening on their own time.

When that is the case, the strong body of theatre that emerged from the townships will act as a reminder of the horrors that a racist regime could perpetrate and a warning to future generations of what they must never allow to happen again.

This import from the Market Theatre in Johannesburg is a pleasure to behold throughout its 90 minutes. It tells the tale of the Gospels, updated to Joburg in the seventies as the people await the Messianic Morena.

He takes time to arrive but then confounds the authorities and offers hope for the future as well as resurrection for the many dead political leaders such as former ANC President and Nobel Peace Priize winner Albert Luthuli.

It is a classic example of South Africa’s own brand of Poor Theatre, performed by an energetic (if somewhat portly) duo, who take dozens of parts and convey their stories with almost no props.

The lack of equipment puts great demands on performers and again and again, they come through. An old woman struggling with invisible needle and thread competes with a human one-armed bandit are the picks of many imaginative images.

Under the direction of Prince Lamla, Mncedisi Baldwin Shabangu and Peter Mashigo do everything that could be asked of hem in a joyous but very moving 90 minutes.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher

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