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Thursday, October 2, 2014


(Menzi Mkhwane)

(Review from the artSMart team covering the Witness Hilton Arts Festival which ran at Hilton College from September 19 to 21)

Mlambo fills play with humour and a strong sense of survival. (Review by Pauline Dalais)

The Shoe Man deals with a subject that is currently close to me as an acquaintance has taken himself back to school at the age of 23 in order to improve his job prospects. This highlights the plight of many youngsters today where they are not educationally equipped to attract reasonable salaries and eke out a living doing menial jobs with little hope for the future.

Supported by the KZN Dept of Arts & Culture, the play received two awards for drama from the Masakhane Festival and won the 2014 Musho! Audience Award.

It features a young man nicknamed The Shoe Man whose uncle gave him the advice to always keep his shoes shiny as one day they would “give him a brighter future”.

Where he lived in the township, not one student had passed grade 12. Also, lack of government service delivery meant they were still waiting for electricity and toilets. So he moves to live with his uncle in town to attend a multi-racial school. The play is simply set in his uncle’s home with only a few props.

In order to pay his school fees, he starts a dodgy business for the school bully but the principal finds out and he is suspended. During this time, the young man works for a neighbour and shines shoes. However, the future is not as bright as his shoes and many challenges lie ahead when he returns to school.

Menzi Mkhwane plays a character much younger in years than he is but he produces a credible young learner who is full of vigour and determination. He also takes on a number of characters from the bully and his alcoholic uncle to the principal and his kindly neighbour.

Writer and director Samson Mlambo has created a script that portrays the realities faced by children whose parents are challenged by payment of school fees. This could easily become a depressing scenario. However, Mlambo fills it with humour and a strong sense of survival. He also focuses on human kindness to those less fortunate. – Pauline Dalais

Keith Millar reviewed the production for artSMart when it was presented at the 2014 Musho! Festival and featured Reggie Ndlovu (