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Saturday, November 30, 2019


Indeed this is a great way to fuel the holiday spirit. (Review by Philisiwe Twijnstra)

The art of storytelling is a highly respected medium around the continent of Africa, a ritual that carves a path for a child to continue imagining. I grew up listening to this legendary voice on Radio Zulu. Now, my daughter, who is five years old, had a chance to watch and listen to Mama Gcina Mhlophe and her artistic team, opening a pot of stories and magic.

Indeed this is a great way to fuel the holiday spirit.

Fudukazi’s Magic, based on the widely published children’s book of the same title. Fudukazi’s Magic is a play for the young ones, complimented by songs and percussion and drums written and directed, by Mama Gcina Mhlophe.

The play is set in the African bus and features three singer-actors alongside Gcina Mhlophe, Khwezi Becker and Nkosingiphile Mpanza and two musicians Victor Sithole and Njabulo Shabalala.

They tell the tale of a Queen Mother tortoise which, while interacting with other creatures of the bush, uses magic to transform duller looking animals by adding a rainbow of colours to their coats. But there is one animal that was not kind; which was the Hyena, who was selfish and unkind. When the Hyena saw that everyone was colourful and beautiful, the hyena went to Queen Mother Tortoise to demand her to make him more beautiful. However, because his heart was unkind, the magic from Queen Mother Tortoise made the hyena ugly because he was mean.

The set was comfortable as you enter the Grand Foyer of the Playhouse; the stage is set up with a huge tortoise draped and adorned in vibrant colourful fabrics and further downstage the musician set is ready to set the mood of Fudukazi’s Magic. They’d set pillows in front of the chairs for the little ones. The room was filled with little laughs and adorable screams: as the actors told the story of Fudukazi’s magic through their catchy melodies. What was most effective was that Mama Gcina Mhlophe has a beautiful presence, commanding energy and her spellbinding focus was supported by bringing a great balance of talented actors in their own right to make us laugh and enjoy - what kind hearts can do.

Having said that, I do feel that the script was jarring at some point, and the play didn’t need sound amplification. The actors are trained to use their voices especially for this type of theatre style. The sound amplification broke the intimacy of the play and this includes the projection at the back. It took away the magic of storytelling. The notion that simplicity is best epitomises my thoughts about the production.

Performances of Fudukazi’s Magic will run next week daily at 14h00 from Tuesday to Saturday, December 3 to 7, 2019.

Tickets R50 if bought in advance and R65 at the door. Book at the Playhouse box-office – phone 031 369 9596/40 – or online and at Pick N pay outlets via WebTickets (the customer support line is 086 111 0005). – Philisiwe Twijnstra