One thing you could always expect from theatrical pieces created by the late great father of township theatre, Gibson Mthuthuzeli Kente is high quality work that’s both entertaining and speaks right to the issues of the day.
This is what this musical tribute, directed by Makhaola Ndebele, also aims to do: to honour Kente by paying tribute to his work through a beautiful mixture of multimedia. You have the music, the dancing, the acting and the video clips of Kente explaining key details about his work and the context in which it was created.
The set is simple, which I appreciated because a busy set would’ve taken away from an already busy storyline.
There are a couple of wardrobe changes and props that are used to illustrate changes in character.
The musicians are on point. They provide the backing that allows the actors and actresses to shine in the musical. Douglas Sekete’s Choreography is energetic, but so beautifully South African that it fits in with the play.
Watching Xoli Bongwana dance is a dream. He has a short contemporary solo in the re-enactment of Sikalo 2, which is bewitching to say the least. In such a strong cast with powerful performers, highlighting one specific performer would be unfair as the entire cast carries their weight beautifully.
The musical is made up of 14 songs, which briefly tell the stories of some of Kente’s most popular works, such as How Long, Sikalo and Sikalo 2. There are also songs from the production Can You Take It.
The only problem I experienced is that I struggled to differentiate between the scenes until they were in full swing. So I was often unsure of whether we had moved on to a snippet of the play and what play it was, possibly because I have never watched any of the full-length plays. That was the confusing part.
Otherwise the musical is wonderful to watch and a great way to honour the artistic contributions of a man who, it seems, history is a little too eager to ignore.