Review: District Six – Kanala

District Six Kanala
Photo credit: Jesse Kate Kramer

It’s hard to pick one, two or even three best parts of David Kramer’s latest masterpiece, District Six – Kanala. It delivers, over and over. Loud and vibrant, filled with song, dance, lots of laughter and the heartbreak of losing your home, it’s a perfect celebration of the people who lived in District Six and their music.

The premiere was held on 11 February, fifty years to the day since District Six was declared a whites-only area under the Group Areas Act, and it was the perfect way to remember that vile act and celebrate the people of District Six who, within weeks of the declaration in 1966, were viciously uprooted and moved.

The Fugard Theatre, with its bare stone walls that whisper secrets of those days, is the ideally intimate venue. Eight extremely versatile actors (who must play at least a hundred different characters between them!) and a six-piece live band led by saxophonist Donveno Prins, make up the stellar cast.

The set is beautiful – simple and effective, with a circular fabric ’tower’ for the band at centre-stage. It’s a small space, used well. Images of District Six and its people are projected onto the fabric.

From the music in the streets, the carnivals, the nightclubs, and performances at the Star Bioscope, District Six – Kanala is a rollicking musical ride that leaves one in tears of laughter (the Malay choir was comedic genius, as was Sne Dladla’s Scope performance), followed by tears of heartbreak (‘11th of February’, written by Kramer, brought a surreal, goosebump-inducing sadness), followed by more laughter and toe-tapping.

It’s hard not to gush. Go and see it for yourself.

Briony Chisholm

District Six – Kanala is currently running at The Fugard Theatre until 5 March 2016.


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