Back Tevin Musara, Adam Lennox Front Mphumzi Nontshinga, Simphiwe Shabalala, Cullum McCormack from 'Sainthood'. Picture: Vulture Productions
When it comes to masculinity and the idea of what it means to be a “man” within a South African construct, a lot of the toxic social norms are moulded at school.

The worst of the bunch being all-boys’ schools where decades of fragile and toxic masculinity have been enforced and seen as the norm.

Sainthood looks at the damage caused by toxic masculinity in a fictional boys school with a group of friends. Zwelakhe “Zwi” Nkedama (Mphumzi Nontshinga), Tebogo “Tebza” Ndaba (Simphiwe Shabalala), William “Will” Chambers (Cullum McCormack), Siyabonga “Siya” Mlilo (Tevin Musara) and George Harris (Adam Lennox) double as dorm-mates, with Tebza being the head boy and Zwi the deputy head boy of the school.

The Tiisetso Mashifane wa Noni- directed play is compelling, funny and has an enduring take on these schoolboys, each with his own issue.

Zwi is jealous of Tebza being head boy.

Tebza wears the burden of being the first black head boy at his school, having to deal with asserting his blackness within a white space.

Siya and George get caught making out and end in a rocky relationship.

And Will suffers from depression. Will, especially, encompasses your archetypal manly man. He’s the first team rugby captain, handsome and has a girlfriend in their sister school.

He hides his depression and used to be a cutter but doesn’t speak about it. Instead, he opts to go off his meds because he thinks he doesn’t need them. He struggles to accept his illness while keeping his idea of masculinity intact.

Mashifane wa Noni’s directing is a breath of fresh air in the way she tackles the depiction of the boys and the different interactions within the hyper-masculine environment.

Having two of the characters as gay men and showing how they navigate a heteronormative environment gives more depth to the play.

The acting is also great, with Nontshinga and Shabalala being the stand-outs with both their verbal and non-verbal cues.

I completely understand why Sainthood won the Standard Bank Ovation Award. The play tackles multiple issues faced by young boys while still keeping the focus fully at dismantling toxic masculinity.

If you want to watch a play where you’ll both be entertained and have your third eye opened, this is it.

Sainthood runs until February 23. There’s an 11am performance on February 21, and 3pm shows on Saturdays, February 9, 16 and 23. There is an age restriction of 16.

Ticket prices are R50 (scholars/students/seniors and matinee block-bookings of 10 or more), R70 (block-bookings of 10 or more for evening performances) and R100.

Booking is at Webtickets on 0861110005, online at or from selected Pick * Pay stores.