by Omphile Molusi.
Traverse Theatre (Traverse 1) 10 Cambridge Street EH1 2ED To 25 August 2013.
10am 22 Aug.
12.45pm 23 Aug.
3.45pm 18, 24 Aug.
6pm 20, 25 Aug.
9pm 21 Aug.
Runs 1hr 15min No interval.
TICKETS: 0131 228 1404.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 11 August.
Directness and energy in a play with something to say.
Sophisticated writing and production characterise most Traverse shows. Sometimes, as in April’s Quiz Show, it works wonders; sometimes, as in last autumn’s main offering, not. But the intended audience is clear.
Omphile Molusi’s play takes a different path. As writer, Molusi draws on family experience, and it’s unsurprising a straightforward urgency comes through, especially when he’s directing, and acting the central role himself
The staging looks unsophisticated, with sheets dividing the acting area into shanty-town yards. But they are skilfully incorporated into the action, creating shadows for violent actions, an obstacle course for escape or chase, and being torn down as a correlative to the destruction apartheid South Africa wrought on the characters.
It’s easy to sigh at such low-tech sophistication in Festival Edinburgh. But rather this – something to say being directly said – than the vacuous elaborations of theatricality that make some minor, world-weary point.
And the old Soviet criticism of ‘formalism’ – worrying about how you say something rather than making points which contact with a popular audience – comes to mind.
So, if some adjustment of mindset is called for in this venue, it won’t be in many other places. And the story, ranging from 1965 to 2013, is told with an urgency that never exploits the dangers, fears, and in one scene, shocking killing which turn young Gregory into a guerrilla, or ‘cadre’.
Molusi writes from within today’s South Africa – its population is the core audience, their awareness of the country’s continuing tensions the final connection for this play, which also reaches out more widely.
Events like this, reported by the BBC after police killed 34 strikers: “"Our husbands were killed like dogs. We are widows today because of the police and yet no-one has been arrested for their deaths," one bereaved woman said, “tears gushing down her face”.
Not a tale of apartheid but from the Marikana miners’ strike in South Africa, during last year’s Edinburgh Festival. There is a world elsewhere and Molusi shows a part of it. Among the strong actors, Lillian Tshabalala movingly creates a joyous teenage girl in love during early scenes.
Cast: Omphile Molusi, Sello Motloung, Lillian Tshabalala.
Directors: Omphile Molusi, Rick Boynton.
Designer/Costume: Scott Davis.
Lighting: Jesse Klug.
Fight choreographer: Matt Hawkins.