Review: Wrongly Accused Gets a Unanimous Verdict

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wronlyWaseef Piekaan has been at home on the stage since the age of twelve, and it shows. His latest performance, Wrongly Accused, gives Piekaan the opportunity to showcase his talents as playwright, songwriter, poet and actor in this comedic one-man show. Currently on a two-month long run at the Baxter’s Masambe Theatre, Wrongly Accused first tested the waters of mainstream theatre when performed at the Zabalaza Festival. This festival, which supports productions of rising stars of theatre, won Piekaan the Best Actor award.

Wrongly Accused is a multi-layered story. Using his soapbox as a witness stand, Piekaan opens up a courtroom drama that puts the audience in the jury box. But it is also a musical. And it is also a murder mystery. And it is most definitely a love story of epic proportions. Multi-layered characters are needed to build such a story and they flow effortlessly from Piekaan’s body in an almost schizophrenic fashion. Piekaan plays every character in the show, and his ability to fully encompass such diverse characters is nothing short of astounding.

Legal immigrant from India and now living in “The Table View of Mitchell’s Plain: Tafelsig”, Mr. Baljiet Pattaan is the plaintiff in the witness stand. It is his cellphone shop that got burgled while he was out saving the day and falling in love with the most beautiful woman on Earth. Through an animated story and an utterly hilarious Bollywood musical number, Piekaan as Pattaan sets the stage for number of colourful witnesses to come forward with their confessions.

Marius van Rooyen, a salt of the earth plaasjapie from De Doorns is the main accused. An unfortunate case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Marius tells us a bit of his history and of his pure love for his fiancée, Fransiena, also known as Koekblom. Fransiena becomes another one of the characters, and the innocent love story of this pair swept away most of the audience so that murmurs of “Ag jinne ma…” rippled through the female side of the audience as Piekaan engaged us in his vibrant storytelling.

Apart from the cellphone shop owner and the gloriously gay cousin Ronald, who speaks “the Queen’s English”, all of the characters are very much Afrikaans. They also tend to hail from either De Doorns or the Cape Flats and Mitchell’s Plain, and elements of the coloured communities are strongly woven into the story. On the dark side, there is the gangsterism, tik abuse and lives of crime that have shaped some of the characters. But on the light side, the story is structured on a razor-sharp sense of humour and a delightful play on words.

Skyrocketing to stardom, Waseef Piekaan’s talent is indisputable. He is completely at home on stage, with a clear mission to engage, entertain and educate. If you enjoy physical theatre, wordplay, local comedy or you just want to see the bright future of Cape Town’s theatre world, Wrongly Accused comes highly recommended.

Marilu Snyders

Wrongly Accused is playing at the Baxter Masambe Theatre until 18 January.

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