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Festival Review: Itsoseng

Itsoseng_Written_and_performed_by_Omphile_Molusi_Adelaide_FestivalPresented by Richard Jordan Productions Ltd in association with the Baxter Theatre University of Cape Town and Pleasance
Reviewed Friday 1st March 2013

Omphile Molusi, who will also be speaking at Writers’ Week, wrote and performs this one man play, set in the township of Itsoseng in post-apartheid South Africa. We quickly discover that all is not sweetness and light, brightly colourful clothing, and constant singing and dancing, an image that white South Africans would have had us believe at that time. Mawilla, a young man from the township enters, dragging a heavy metal trunk, a dark blue jacket over his arm. He explains that he was supposed to have worn his blue suit that day but that he did not, after all, go to a funeral. We discover whose funeral it is near the end of the evening.

Bits of detritus litter the area, with a dusty path winding its way across the stage, and he explains that this was once a shopping complex. He then takes us back almost two decades to when the shopping complex was new, a thriving concern employing many from the township, and was a convenient place for everybody to shop. He tells of its destruction, and the expectation that it would soon be rebuilt, that the Government would change and, with it, the lives of the people would improve dramatically. He tells of his friends, and how the destruction affected them, their lives, and their states of mind as the years tick by with nothing changing.

The work is based in fact, and Itoseng, which am told means “wake yourself up” is the township in Ditsoboltla, in the North Weast Province where Molusi grew up, and where the shopping complex, including the library and cinema, was really destroyed and looted, and never rebuilt. The emotions that come through so clearly and strongly in this excellent piece of theatre are real. Although the character of Mawilla is fictional, and not necessarily autobiographical, there is a great deal of Molusi, his life and his experiences informing it.

, and perfectly understood even when not speaking in English. His ability to slip instantly from Mawilla into numerous other characters, and conduct two or three way conversations with himself, is quite amazing.

This powerful plea for recognition for his township, and for change and improvement, has toured the world and both he and the play are award winners. This, my first Festival production for the year, was magnificent and has set a very high standard, and it is sure to have people talking long after the Festival has ended. Be sure to get tickets for this production.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.

Adelaide Festival page

Writers’ Week page

Venue: Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide
Season: to 4th March 2013
Duration: 80mins
Tickets: $25 to $39
Bookings: BASS 131 246 or here

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