More and more productions carrying queer narratives are popping up in the local theatre scene, and it makes me so happy. Initiating such conversations and shining the spotlight on issues that affect the LGBTIQ+ community plays a huge role in creating awareness and acceptance of LGBTIQ+ bodies by society.
Three’s A Crowd is a comedy written by talented playwright Pfarelo Nemakond. Produced by the Siyasanga Cape Town Theatre Company and directed by Fatima Dike, it explores both the struggles and joys of gay relationships.
The story revolves around the lives of an urban gay couple, Mulalo (Yanga Mkonto) and Thabo (Ntokozo Mjozi), who are stuck in a long term relationship that no longer brings them joy. In an attempt to escape the daily pressures of their relationship, the lovers secretly start reconnoitering alternative ways of having fun, inevitably leading to lies and deceit – the perfect method to destroy any relationship. The final test of their love is when they discover that they have been cheating with the same guy, Trevor (Inga Skweyiya).
I expected coming out stories, conflicts with culture, religion and rejection. Billed as a romantic comedy, I didn’t expect it to be solemn or deep in its narrative, but I did hope that a local production by a local writer might shun away from the stereotypes of gay relationships as set by international film and theatre makers. But disappointingly, Three’s a Crowd does tend towards cliché. The play is set in an upmarket apartment, complete with a nearby restaurant and park. Then, there’s a gay couple with a mutual female best friend, Lerato (Nicholate Gongoshe) who displays all the classic characteristics of a faghag: bubbly, pretty, a party animal and a bit of a bimbo.
The amazing chemistry between Mkonto and Mjozi, coupled with Gongoshe’s brilliant acting, are the definite highlights of the production. But the wit of the script is undermined by its persistent misconceptions of the gay community. Nemakonde’s writing is immaculate and clever, but he portrays gay people as fickle, afraid of commitment, and either craving a party or sex. Unfortunately, as a young gay man, these are exactly the fallacies that I spend a lot of time trying to prove wrong.
Though I am very happy about the development and consistency of queer narratives in the local theatre scene, I would be even happier if a lot of this aimed at demolishing the lifelong myths about gay people. These, after all, are the same myths that perpetuate hate crimes and homophobia.
Three’s A Crowd is on at Guga S’thebe Arts and Culture Centre until 13 April 2017.