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Monday, November 14, 2022


(Above: Chi Mhende & Paul Slabolepszy)

The Playhouse Company, an Agency of the Department of Sport, Arts & Culture, is proud to present Fordsburg’s Finest. Hailed as SA theatre giant Paul Slabolepszy’s crowning achievement, the critically acclaimed play runs at the Playhouse in eThekwini in early December.

Here’s the chance for local theatregoers to experience this powerful piece, served up with an uncanny ability to entertain while probing the real issues of life. Directed by SA heavyweight, Bobby Heaney, the class-act two-hander features new-generation star Chi Mhende opposite Paul Slab, the man himself. It guarantees to reveal why audiences all around the country have been clamouring for tickets.

Fordburg’s Finest is a story of Homecoming, of Healing. Ultimately, it is a story of Hope. The setting is South Africa. The time, the early summer of 1996. Two very different worlds collide in the most unexpected of places - Fordsburg - Johannesburg. Thandeka (Chi Mhende) - a Manhattan, New York, librarian - decides it is time to return to her South African roots. All she has, to accompany her on the journey, are stories, images, half-formed pictures in her head, of her homeland, and her people, described to her in loving detail long ago by her now deceased mother and father.

(Left: Chi Mhende)

The single, most highly anticipated event of Thandeka’s homecoming pilgrimage is a visit to the house in which she was born. Arriving at 74 Pioneer Street in Fordsburg (an old suburb of Johannesburg) clutching an out-of-date, faded street map, she is saddened to find the homestead no longer there. In its place, is a run-down Used Car lot, owned by “Foxy Freddie” Volschenk (Paul Slabolepszy) - a convivial middle-aged white South African, ex police reservist and lover of second-hand automobiles.

As a fascinating evening unfolds, fluctuating alternately between wild humour and infinite sadness, dark pain, and scorching shafts of madness, Thandi is given more than just a taste of what life must have been like for her beleaguered family in those not-so distant, never-to-be-forgotten days.

(Right: Paul Slabolepszy)

This unlikely encounter between these brittle, delicate-but-damaged souls, takes us to unexplored regions of the battered, still smarting South African psyche. The reviews say it all:

“This is truly great South African drama… a moving study of affirmation, wit and courage, shot through with specific and memorable funny moments… just don’t miss it!” (Business Day);

“Slabolepszy’s finest achievement…a triumph of humanity.” (The Citizen); “A landmark in local theatre!” (Financial Mail).


Fordsburg’s Finest will be performed at 18h30 on Friday and Saturday, December 2 and 3, and on Sunday December 4 at 14h30. Tickets R100, available at Web Tickets.

Playhouse patrons who park at the Albany Parking Garage and the Royal Hotel qualify for a discount.