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Thursday, July 12, 2018


(Ntonkozo Ngcobo as Queen Nandi)

It is through a woman that we all live ... (Review by Verne Rowin Munsamy)

The Phumelela Educational training Project, under the artistic direction of Edmund Mhlongo presented Nandi The Musical at the Durban Playhouse. When I walked into the theatre I was welcomed by the image of three kraal-shaped domes with the cast and the band silhouetted on stage. The figure of Queen Nandi poised centre stage, this was the beginning of an epic tale told tantalisingly by a youthful cast.

I adored every bit of the show beginning with the music played by live musicians. I thought that the underscoring was sensitive and endearing to every moment. The choreography by Mle Khuzwayo is subtle but very effective, it does not detract from the story which is very well written. The tale is that of Queen Nandi, the mother of King Shaka. It is reminiscent of the Queen’s strength, conviction, triumphs and tribulations and how she succeeded in raising a great leader of the Zulu people.

The cast of almost 40 are focused and formidable on the stage. While some of the roles were too aged for this cast they still managed to create well-rounded and stylised characters. The chorus of singers, under the direction of Sandile Mpungose, were outstanding in their harmonies and solos. Even the living legend Gcina Mhlophe lends her voice to the narration of story. On stage we were marvelled by Ntonkozo Ngcobo who is firm in her portrayal of Queen Nandi. Ngcobo sets a high standard which the rest of the cast find no trouble in achieving.

The set with its strappy design reminded me of reeds which are often mentioned in the musical and I felt that this was a good aesthetic for the play. The stark lighting worked wondrously against the black on the set. The costumes were authentic as was the atmosphere on stage. This was a successful musical albeit a little too long. - Verne Rowin Munsamy