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Sunday, March 22, 2015


(Mthokozisi Zulu & Wiseman Ncube appear in the lead roles)

A fine accomplishment for the Mzansi Arts Development Ensemble in its debut production. (Review by Keith Millar)

Mashu: The Musical, which is coming to the end of its run in the Playhouse Opera is a vibrant, energetic, colourful and somewhat harrowing tale set in the Township of Kwa Mashu in the mid-1990’s. It features two of Durban’s most talented young actors - Mthokozisi Zulu and Wiseman Mncube. They put in impressive performances as brothers who are caught up in the township violence which was prevalent at that time.

Based on true events, the story is about the residents of L section of the Township and the effect gang violence had on their lives. It tells of a community fractured and a family shattered as two brothers face off against each other amidst the bloodshed and hostility wrought on the area by the gangs.

It also gives a strong message of reconciliation, compromise and hope for all people to take into the future.

The musical was written, composed, choreographed and co-directed by a new young playwright, Lucky Cele, who is a resident of Kwa Mashu. The production is a credit to his determination to tell the story of his people and neighbourhood as well as the tribulations they have suffered.

Backed by an excellent seven piece band, the music in the show is unique and memorable. Several genres are evident including Maskandi, Mbhaganga, Gospel and Pop. The dancing is high energy and exciting and beautifully choreographed.

Cele was mentored by the production’s designer and director, theatre veteran Themi Venturas whose experience, flair and style is apparent throughout the piece.

In fact, the production is an absolute triumph for theatre technology. Lighting design by Mathew Broderick was wonderfully atmospheric. Creating distinctive moods and feels for the various scenes.  Megan Levy’s sound design and engineering was excellent - perfectly balanced and audible throughout,  no mean feat for a cast of 30 and a seven-piece band. The wonderfully innovative sets were built by James Alberts and painted by Greg King in his own inimitable style.

With this wonderful foundation, the cast could not help but excel – and this they certainly did. Other than by Mthokozisi Zulu and Wiseman Mncube in their lead roles, there were also standout performances by Samukele Mkhize as Dudu Cele, their mother; Samkelisiwe Hlope as her friend Molly, and the two Pastors, Ayanda Hlongwa and Nduzi Nombela.

The production runs for about two and a half hours and is bi-lingual with dialogue in both Zulu and English.

Mashu: The Musical is the debut production, and a fine accomplishment, for the Mzansi Arts Development Ensemble. What a way to start! One can only look forward to what is to follow.  This musical was sponsored by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund and the Office of the Premier (Heritage Chief Directorate).

There is one more performances of this production this afternoon (March 22) at 15h30. Tickets at R100 are available from Computicket. – Keith Millar

(Editor’s Note: I wasn’t able to attend the opening as I was away in Johannesburg but managed to catch it last night and agree with everything Keith Millar has said. A real triumph for MADE and congratulations to all! – Caroline Smart)