Vibrant local theatre

2014-01-23 00:00

THE annual Musho! International Festival of One- and Two-Hander Theatre showed once again the amazing talent of Durban’s small but vibrant theatre community.

Aside from two international performances — Freeze and Dette in Africa — and contributions from Daniel Buckland and Sylvaine Strike (The God Complex) and Taryn Papadopoulos (Meze, Mira and Make-up), all the works on the main programme, Musho! with a Twist and the New Director’s Development Project were written, performed and directed by local performers.


The festival, which is hosted by the Performing Arts Network of South Africa (Pansa) KwaZulu-Natal, began with a performance of Gisele Turner’s new work, eLimboland, starring Jem Atkins and Gabriel Miya.

In the play, two men find themselves in a kind of waiting room together, with no idea of who they are and how they came to be there.

They are soon informed by a disembodied and slightly bored voice that they are dead and need to fill out some forms to be able to move on. The dark humour in the piece comes from the, at times, outlandish theories they have for being in eLimboland, but as each theory is discarded, a hint of desperation emerges until a chance word sparks a memory.

As their thoughts come flooding back, Al and Philani realise that they were one-time friends and business partners, whose relationship soured due to greed and betrayal. To move on, they need to forgive each other, but can they?

Miya, a student at Durban University of Technology, is a new talent to watch. His youthful exuberance contrasts with Atkins’s more world-weary air.

Turner also cleverly weaves headline grabbing stories into the text. These range from ATM bombings to blue light bullies.

The play is thought-provoking and asks each member of the audience to consider the South Africa we choose to call home, complete with its disparate races, cultures and economic apartheid. eLimboland is not yet a perfectly polished work, but it is certainly an interesting new addition to the theatre landscape.


My favourite piece at this year’s Musho! was undoubtedly Dear Breeder, created by and starring Karen Logan and Kasia Vosloo, and directed by Iain “Ewok” Robinson.

This witty, clever and downright hilarious musical comedy will resonate with anyone who has ever been a parent.

Using a set littered with children’s chairs, tables and toys, Logan and Vosloo use a combination of song and monologues to tell the story of a pre-school teacher and the parents she encounters: fashionista Gabrielle or “G”, whose son, Cole, leads the school’s rapper gang; Lex, an artist and yoga guru, whose daughter wears black and hums Darth Vader’s theme tune from Star Wars; and the seemingly perfect Janet, who has just discovered she’s pregnant again.

The three women are working on the school’s annual nativity play, but nothing is going according to Janet’s plan. For a start, the backdrop is covered in Star Wars stormtroopers and dinosaurs, rather than sheep and twinkling stars.

Logan slips effortlessly in and out of the various characters in the piece and delivers a wonderful spoken word piece filled with meaning. As for Vosloo, her musical parodies, inspired by cult New Zealand duo Flight of the Conchords, are nothing short of genius.

Those watching last Thursday night clearly agreed. Dear Breeder won the festival’s Suleiman Selection award and was runner-up for the Audience Favourite award.

If you weren’t able to catch this fabulous new show at Musho!, the good news is that Dear Breeder is set to have a run at the Rhumbelow Theatre in Durban. Don’t miss it.


Other festival winners included: Dutch performer Nick Steur’s mesmerising Freeze, in which he carefully balanced rocks on top of each other; Samson Mlambo’s The Shoe Man, which won the coveted audience award; and The God Complex, which was given a special mention by the judges.

Winners among the emerging artists taking part in Musho! with a Twist and the New Director’s Development Project were:

• Audience award — A Men to We Men, created by the Siyathuthuka Theatre Company in collaboration with writer-mentor Zwai Mgijima.

The play, performed by Phindile Ndlovu and Lebohang Mzaza, tells the story of the loyal wife of an abusive, alcoholic husband, who is only able to break free when she learns the secrets of his trade.

• Runner-up to the Audience award — Back to Night Under The Street Poles, written and directed by Wiseman Mncube, mentored by Roel Twijnstra and performed by Ayanda Fali.

The play centres on a woman, who, on the day that she is released from prison, is afraid to walk out of jail.

• Special Mention — Brothers, created by Lashona Art and Theatre Creations in collaboration with writer-mentor Monageng “Vice” Motshabi.

Performed by Mlungisi Ngidi and Cebo Mdadance, the play tells the story of two brothers who reunite after the death of their father, but cannot see eye-to-eye because they only care about their inheritance.

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