Ndebele Funeral

A challenging, yet colourful, vision of unity in a fragmented state.

★★★★
theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 21 Aug 2015

Thandi is an exile in a South African shantytown living with Aids, when Mandisi (Yusef Miller), an ex-university friend from her days as a medical student, shows up. They're interrupted by government worker Jan, who's been sent to keep things in check.

The play centres on an exploration of the socio-political climate of contemporary South Africa. Choreographers Sduduzo Ka-Mbili and Cuereston Burge experiment with movement to emphasise the unity of three central characters that, on the surface, are polarised in about every sense. Plot-wise, the trio are brilliant at exposing each others' downfalls, yet they never act uncaringly.

It's because they are good people. And Zoey Martinson's writing (she also stars as Thandi) does well to highlight the affection between the two friends. The character of Jan offers a persuasive portrayal of a government messenger swept up in this crisis.

Awoye Timpo's direction never allows the audience outside of Thandi's home, and though we are made to feel the fledgling nature of he condition we are never made to pity her, nor mourn her impending death, as the plot begins to soar. Here is a challenging, yet colourful, vision of unity in a fragmented state. Most pleasing of all is the way this difficult play tackles its themes of healthcare and poverty with dance, song, comedy and a very modern sense of the stage.