Boy Ntulikazi is a beautifully executed piece of theatre that tells a story of a child’s misplaced identity due to his parents’ poor choices; a common misfortune amongst black rural families. A teenage girl from a poverty-stricken village flees her home after falling pregnant, fearful of her parents’ reaction. After giving birth, she abandons her baby boy on a riverbank hoping that the strong winds of July (Ntulikazi) will push the baby into the river. Her wishes are not realised because years later, the boy finds himself facing an identity dilemma, caught between lies from his guardian and the truth from his friend. The frustration leads him to a search for his real parents, a search which literally goes up in flames.
In this case the consequences are deadly. Parents often make choices on behalf of their children, forgetting that the child will one day grow up to be a person whose happiness might teeter on the outcome of those choices. The play sets a very good example of this.
Nzuza swiftly assumes multiple characters as he delivers a stellar performance, proving once again why this piece took The Baxter’s 2017 Best of the Zabalaza Theatre Festival. He moves from a distraught teenage mother to a stern Afrikaans farmer with undaunted ease, taking the audience on an emotional rollercoaster as he lays out South African realities to which we’d rather turn a blind eye. Live on-stage music by singer and guitarist, Nhlanhla Zondi, enhances Nzuza’s immaculate performance and also serves as a soothing relief between the heart-wrenching scenes.
The minimalistic set allows Nzuza to move around the stage with graceful if sometimes hyperbolic gestures as he lives out the various characters. With just a few props – often rearranged with incredible speed – the talented actor is able to paint a series of vivid images for the audience.
Walking out of the theatre a complete emotional wreck, is another reminder of why this show received all its recognition and accolades.
Boy Ntulikazi is currently showing at Baxter Theatre until 13 May 2017.