Review: Father Comes Home From The Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3), Royal Court

“How much you think we’re gonna be worth when Freedom comes?”

There is scheduled to be at least another six parts to Suzan-Lori Parks’ ambitious play cycle but don’t let that put you off, the three hours of Father Comes Home From The Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) are well spent in exploring race, slavery and the US civil war and how its pernicious legacy permeates through even to contemporary (US) society. Jo Bonney’s production is not always the easiest to watch but then how could it be, rather it seeks to provoke serious thought and consideration about what it meant – and what it still means – to be free.

To take on such a grand narrative and possibly to alleviate some of the intense seriousness, Parks has playfully borrowed from a range of storytelling techniques, most notably the Greeks, And through them establishes her interpretation of the African-American experience – the magpie nature of Emilio Sosa’s costume design with details both period and present-day, reinforcing the continuing relevance of its message.  Continue reading “Review: Father Comes Home From The Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3), Royal Court”

Review: I See You, Royal Court

“Speak to me in your mother-tongue and I will let you go”

In a land where truth and reconciliation tried to salve the considerable wounds of Apartheid in a multi-ethnic society (with no less than eleven official languages), it is little wonder that race relations in contemporary South Africa remain complex and challenging. And it is this subject, and his own personal experiences thereof, that writer Mongiwekhaya has turned for his play I See You, a product of the Royal Court’s international new writing development and a co-production with the Market Theatre Johannesburg where it will play next.

I See You, or Ngiyakubona in Zulu, or Ek Sien Jou in Afrikaans, or Ndiyakubona in Xhosa, to give it its full title, follows the events of a traumatic Friday night in Johannesburg where the conflict is even more multi-faceted, refracted through generational tension as well as ethnic. Teenagers Ben and Skinn are hooking up at a party but their revels are interrupted by police sergeant Buthelezi, a man having a terrible night with his marriage collapsing around him and far from inclined to just let this case slide as he whisks Ben away to mete out some punishment. Continue reading “Review: I See You, Royal Court”

Not-a-review: Fana Le Fale (Here and There), Royal Court

Another of the South African readings that the Royal Court were hosting this week, Omphile Molusi’s Fana Le Fale (Here and There) translated by himself from his native mother tongue Setswana.

As works-in-progress, I’m not saying much about them other than to say they make a welcome addition to the theatre scene and I really hope we get to see at least a couple of them once they’ve further developed. Show’s synopsis: Street clown Wilfred and his girlfriend Cindy live in a shack of corrugated iron. Joined by their young relatives, “born frees” with very different dreams, they start a fight against a corrupt housing system to drag themselves out of life in the slums.