WHEN WE AWAKE. Workshopped and directed by Nwabisa Plaatjie and performed by Sisipho Mbopa and Nolufefe Ntshuntshe. Baxter Masambe Theatre
MEGAN FURNISS reviews
This piece of theatre, sharply written and directed and brilliantly performed, took me straight back to my student days, to the first time I saw Woza Albert, to 1789 at The Market Theatre, to the extraordinary (and illegal) work of organisations like CAP.
I sat in the tiny Masambe theatre tonight, in the still heat and closeness, and was transported to that world where words have meaning, and ideas are given flight.
When We Awake is part myth – there is the world of the West where women have taken power, are ruled by a matriarch and all men are to be obliterated. There is the world of the East – where men have managed to subjugate and objectify women, and the power of the massive penis person rules supreme. And there is a poet, with a sick wife who must travel from the one world to the other to get medicine from the misty mountain.
Protest theatre and poor theatre and message driven performance
When We Awake is Brechtian protest theatre and poor theatre and message driven performance. It is a railing against GBV, and a warning, and #menaretrash and what women are driven to. It is an interrogation of performance, and a dismantling and recreating of the world of story and politic and moral and poetry.
There are few props, an acknowledgement of there being little or no budget, a nod to the theatre community of Cape Town. There is a beautiful and easy relationship between the performers, a shock opening, plenty of humour; both crass and deeply subtle, there is satire and softness and craziness and anger. And there is relevance. This work is made for here and now. This subject matter is unavoidable, and unpalatable and absolutely in your face. We have got issues. Big ones. And When We Awake takes them and looks at them, turns them upside down, shakes them out, laughs at them and points fingers straight in their eyes.
The perfect balance
It is fun and prickly and hilarious and crazy and sad. Nolufefe and Sisipho strike the perfect balance of physical theatre, mouthpiece monologue, caricature, sentiment and ease. I love them both.
Go see it. It is going to develop and deepen and get sharper and better. It has only just begun and it is fabulous.
What: When We Awake at the Baxter
Where and when: Masambe Theatre at the Baxter from 18 to 29 February 2020