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Saturday, December 24, 2016


(Sheila Khumalo, Lungile Mkhize & Dawn King)

The show mixed tradition with modern storytelling techniques to keep us thoroughly entertained. - Verne Rowin Munsamy

Lauded director and playwright Duma Ndlovu’s celebrated play, The Game, has been included in The Playhouse Company’s exciting festive season programme, and runs in the Playhouse Loft Theatre from December 15 to 24. I was fortunate enough to catch this noteworthy show over the weekend and was blissfully engrossed by the harmonies, soulful sounds and delicately poised performances of eight established actress who make up the cast: Sindi Dlathu; Dawn King; Nqobile Ndlovu; Nomasonto Dlamini; Sheila Khumalo; Buhle Samuels; Lungile Mkhize; and Vuyiseka Cawe.

The Game is set in a fictitious women’s prison in Middelburg just a few months before South Africa’s first democratic elections, and amid the crumbling embers of the apartheid state. The prisoners are told that one of them will be released to mark the occasion. The catch is that the prisoners must decide among themselves who is to be released. This sets the cat among the pigeons and what follows is a gritty telling of each prisoner’s fascinating personal story.

These eight women recount the trials and tribulations which caused a double oppression for Black South African women. The set bare, with eight chairs lining the rear of the stage and most of the movement and shapes resembled people sitting around a camp fire, sharing stories. The show is like a South African version of Chicago meets Sophiatown. The chilling harmonies sung by this extremely talented and versatile cast transport us into the apartheid era and offers stories of personal struggle and political persecution.

In The Game, we meet several captivating characters: a spunky 20-year-old who was tried as an adult and convicted at 17. Another is a 25-year-old woman who is the result of the rape of her domestic worker mother and her White employer. These two are joined by a 60-year-old ‘career prisoner’ who displays her experience of being behind prison walls for most of her life. We learn about the abuse of power in the prison system and an array of failed attempts at making it big in the city of gold.

We are constantly reminded of the number 27, Madiba’s imprisonment, AND of other sacrifices that one endures in the quest for freedom. In the end the prisoners play a game of musical chairs, which the old Gogo wins. Her sacrifice and that of other youngster catapulted the story into the present day and asked us to question our own notions of unity, strength and struggle.

The show mixed tradition with modern storytelling techniques to keep us thoroughly entertained. Although, I did find that that the second hour lagged a bit. 

The Game has one more performance tonight in the Playhouse Loft. Booking is at Computicket.- Verne Rowin Munsamy