A future classic

2010-10-21 00:00

Review: Mating Birds

Playhouse Drama Theatre


IT’S always a privilege to be able to watch a new piece of theatre and Mating Birds, starring Sello Maake Ka-Ncube and Themi Venturas, is, I believe, destined to become a South African classic.

Adapted and directed by Mpho Molepo from the novel by the late Lewis Nkosi, the play tells the story of a young African man, Ndi (Maake Ka-Ncube), who has been sentenced to death for raping a white woman in apartheid-era South Africa.

He claims that the sex was consensual and that he and Veronica had connected and fallen in love, despite the laws of the land. In court, however, it was his word against hers and in a country where ‘white was right’, it’s not rocket science to guess who ends up losing.

Ndi’s version of events is told through a series of flashbacks to a Swiss psychiatrist, Dr Dufre (Venturas), who views the idealistic young man as something of a curiosity, not quite believing his explanation of what happened and scoffing at his belief in the power of love. The doctor’s views and comments provide much of the humour in the play, which is packed with emotion and passion.

Mating Birds is not yet a completely finished work, and on opening night there were a few moments when lines were well and truly fluffed. I would love to see the play again when the actors have had the time to really work on it — and, frankly, I would be surprised if it didn’t, at some point, win an award or two.

Unfortunately, my theatre experience of this amazing new work was made extremely difficult. Not only did the play start late — which I’m sure did nothing to help the actors’ first-night nerves — but people were allowed to go in and out of the Drama Theatre at will. I estimate that between 30 and 40 people were allowed in, the last ones arriving an hour into the performance.

This is completely unacceptable. Not only is it extremely discourteous to the actors on stage, but it is distracting for those of us in the audience who actually want to watch the show.

It’s not the first time that I’ve attended a show at the Playhouse where this has happened, but I hope that this ‘open door’ policy will be reviewed and that in future no-one will be allowed in once a show has started.

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