23 YEARS A MONTH AND 7 DAYS. Written and directed by Nwabisa Plaatjie. With Beviol Swarts, Aphiwe Nyezi, Livie Ncanywa, Luthando Mvandaba, Lwando Magwaca, Natasha Gana, Inge Isaacs and Zizipho Ouluba. Baxter Theatre.
MEGAN FURNISS reviews
Nwabisa Plaatjie created 23 Years A Month and 7 Days while spending a year at Magnet Theatre, participating in their Theatre Making Internship Programme. The incarnation that I saw tonight carries with it the journey that it has travelled. It has become an intense, complicated and layered theatrical experience and it is unbelievable that all of it is squeezed into an hour. So much happens in that time.
23 Years A Month and 7 Days is a fictionalised personal account of a young womxn from fictional Potters Field, who comes to UCT to study during the height of the student protests. The play is her response to the protests, the discovery of where she sits in all of it, her growing understanding of its greater meaning, and through it the finding of her own intelligent and responsive voice.
This journey is told through narrator, movement, tight ensemble, song, strange and wonderful things with water (including kettles and ice) and an imaginative set design by Craig Leo. It is multi-lingual, multi-media and many layered, but the complex nature of alienation and self-actualisation is delivered with clarity and even simplicity.
Water is magic
Potters Field is a place where water is magic and can be heard and played. The university’s water is harmful and shameful. And water travels from the one to the other and changes shape and form with its carrier. I loved this motif and the transformational character of water and how it was used through the production.
Nwabisa has entered the space of creative theatricality with boldness. Her cast reflect strong choices, determination and commitment, and they colour her words with intention. Her voice as a director is strong, but the power of her writing is even stronger. This is very exciting.
I loved the few characters other than Nontyatyambo, especially the upside down and all over the place registrar. But I wished for more of them – the main antagonist was a chorus, a movement, an ideology. I would have loved Nontyatyambo to come up against more defined characters. Also, it would have been interesting to manage the gorgeous writing of the narrator differently, through other characters, to make it live in the space in a more theatrical way. But, honestly, I am being very fussy here.
Mostly, the success of 23 Years A Month and 7 Days is that it succeeds in personalising the #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall movements in a way that the The Fall did not, and in comparison, this one has more depth and even longevity.
23 Years A Month and 7 Days is moving, creative and powerful; a recipe for compelling, relevant theatre.
What: 23 Years, A Month and 7 Days
Where and when: Baxter Theatre Flipside from 13 to 24 March 2018
Book: Webtickets on 086 111 0005