national Arts Festival Banner

Friday, December 14, 2018


(Percy Mtwa & Mbongeni Ngema)

It felt like a gift to be part of this monumental moment. (Review by Philisiwe Twijnstra)

Woza Albert is an award-winning play written by Percy Mtwa, Mbongeni Ngema and Barney Simon and directed by Chris John.

The play is well written, it serves the build-up of the play, with punchlines and each character arch follows the through line of the story. It made the audience feel the need of Morena’s arrival.

As you enter the theatre, you are greeted with minimal yet multi-purpose stage setting; two wooden square boxes inside the boxes which have a few items used as props and behind it, there is a rail with different clothes hanging on it.

The two actors Bab’ Ngema and Bab’ Mtwa play roles of various black South Africans - a vendor, barber, servant, manual labourer, soldier - receiving the news that Christ (Morena) has arrived in South Africa where apartheid has foisted, and impoverished, black lives.

Christ's arrival triggers a crisis, and the government launches a bomb against the Morena. In the ruins, great South African leaders in resistance to apartheid such as Albert Luthuli, former president of the African National Congress, are resurrected. This play has crucial connotations to events from the Bible and structurally it shows influences of Waiting for Godot.

Interestingly, when the Zulu boy (exceptionally played by Bab’ Ngema) asked Morena (played excellently by Bab’ Mtwa) to raise the struggle warriors, the audience responded warmly. It reflected where we are as a nation - we need a different Morena. In addition, I also felt that back in 1983 which was when the play was performed; this story was their reality and some of the pieces of the story have become our reality in 2018.

I am utterly grateful to have watched this play. It was an experience to sit in the auditorium, waiting to see the original cast of Woza Albert playing in the Playhouse Loft. It felt like a gift to be part of this monumental moment, witnessing the actors embodying different characters from a little boy to an elderly lady with clear precision and perfect synchronicity of voice, body, sound, breath and movement, creating images using few words and actions, watching both actors excelling and sharing their talent of storytelling is astonishing and breathtaking.

I urge every actor in Durban to watch this play. Let’s fill up the seats … of the Loft. The play moves into the Playhouse Drama from December 27.

Woza Albert runs in the Playhouse until December 30. Booking is at Computicket. – Philisiwe Twijnstra