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Saturday, July 16, 2022


(Lee Kunene & Jayshree Parasuramen. Pic by Ra Kunene)

If you like thought-provoking and amusing theatre, this is for you! (Review by Caroline Smart)

Roland Stansell, who runs the popular Rhumbelow Theatre circuit, explains one of the venue’s original aims: “Historically, way back when we opened, it was about giving opportunity for new shows and new performers. Encouraging new work and new material.”

Currently running to sell-out houses at Rhumbelow over this weekend, Sarafiwe is a perfect example of this vision. Written, produced and performed by Jayshree Parasuramen and Lee Kunene, it is directed by Ra Kunene and takes a humorous and critical look at South Africa’s post-apartheid problems from the political to the racial.

Putting a new theatre production on the stage for the very first time is a nerve-wracking process for all, especially if technology is involved. Sarafiwe is accompanied by a series of photographic and video images. These range from long (sometimes too long) shots of protests, looting and resulting fires; Zuma’s home at Nkandla; President Ramaphosa and his award-winning cattle, and the EFF causing chaos in Parliament to children trying to get to school through flooded rivers.

Last night, the show was dogged by technical problems, challenging the performers Parasuramen and Kunene to retain focus which they did admirably.

We meet the actresses as placard-carrying street beggars with a background of Sandile Thusi Road: Lee pleads “Please help! No BEE, SASSA, ANC; TLC. Cash only!! while Jayshree’s placard puts her on another level: “Please help. No Botox; Petrol; Data; House + BF; Cash only!! They argue about who reached the spot first, chaotically directing the traffic (… because the lights are out!) This leads to a fevered rant about the problems facing us in South Africa. Audience response is energetically supportive – getting into the picture completely!

The scenes include my favourite - the KZN Protest Action Centre - which is very clever and highly amusing. The ladies’ phones are constantly ringing from activists asking if a particular location is available (eg a main street in the city) and can they book it for a protest action? The Centre will sell anything to support protest action but there is a particular demand for tyres (to burn). Among their quotation for 300 tyres or more, the buyers need to remember that if they are burning tyres, they will also have to pay a carbon tax!

The pair focuses on all the unanswered questions – where were the police during trouble times, let alone the country’s leaders? This leads to important subjects like remembering those who helped and sacrificed their lives for so-called freedom.

Closing the show, the pair compare South Africa to the sinking of the Titanic – are we sinking or are we going to survive? They put all their energies into giving strong advice to move forward and stand united, leaving the audience imbued with hope for the future.

If you like thought-provoking and amusing theatre, this is for you!

There are only two more performances – tonight (Saturday) at 19h00 and tomorrow (Sunday at 14h00. Running time approx. 65 minutes. Join the cast after the show for drinks and some fun. (Venue opens 90 minutes before show for snacks/drinks)

Tickets R180. Booking is essential on email: or through Computicket.

Bring food picnic baskets or buy at the venue. A bar is available (no alcohol may be brought on to the premises). There is limited secure parking available.

For more information phone 082 499 8636 or visit

Rhumbelow Theatre is situated at 42 Cunningham Road off Bartle Road, in Umbilo, Durban.

(NB: “Sarawe” will have a run at Sibaya Theatre from July 29 to 31, 2022. Bookings through ticketpro)