Mother Africa

Mother AfricaPresented by Retfar Entertainment Pty Ltd
Reviewed Wed 4th August 2010

Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre, 58 Grote Street, Adelaide
Season: to 15th August, various days and times, see the BASS web site for details
Duration: 2hrs 30min incl interval
Tickets: adult $59.90/child 4-15 $49.90/conc $54.90/family (2 adult, 2child) $200
Bookings: BASS 131 241 or

This show is an evening of pure spectacle, with colourful costumes, immense physicality, powerfully rhythmic music, song, dance, gymnastics and comedy; something for everybody. A great band provided a constantly changing musical background. Alongside the many different types of drums there were other traditional instruments and we heard some wonderful playing on flute and on the Kora, a 21 string type of harp or lute using half of a large calabash gourd covered in untreated animal hide as the resonator. There was also, of course, plenty of singing and those wonderfully rich African vocal harmonies.

This show is far more than a collection of circus performances, although there are plenty of acts that fit that category. There is a big dance component, including traditional dancers in masks and on stilts, Gambu Dance, the clapping and boot slapping dance of the gold miners, and even some tap dancing. There is a good level of humour and comedy running through the production as well. The circus acts are sensational and cover gymnastics, balancing, juggling, contortion and even the Diablos, the fast spinning tops often seen in Chinese circus shows.

The highly effervescent Sibongile Mtshali opens the show, warming up the audience for what is to follow by leading them through a short session of practicing cheers and applause. She performs throughout the show as a singer and dancer, occasionally stepping out to continue in her role as the compère. Once she has us clapping and cheering it is on with the show, and the clapping and cheering continues of its own accord until the show is over.

It would be hard to pick highlights as the whole show was filled with them. The audience was continually “ooh”-ing and “ah”-ing at the amazing feats of these incredibly skilled and talented artists. From hand balancing to foot juggling, contorting through small hoops, bent over backwards, to gentle music, from powerful drum beats to balancing on a board on top of two or three rolling cylinders, there is just no let up in this terrific show.

The energy and enthusiasm of the performers is enormous and there is no doubt that they are having a great deal of fun. If you and your family do not already have tickets, then quick action would be advised. If you are looking for a night out to make you all feel good, this is it!

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor Glam Adelaide.

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