Review: Mafeking Road

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Andrew Laubscher and Matthew Lewis, Mafeking Rd, Kalk Bay TheatreAs I looked down from the balcony at the Kalk Bay Theatre, I realised that story telling is all about presentation. After all these years, Bosman makes sense to me now.

My first introduction to the stories of Herman Charles Bosman was in a stuffy English class in grade eleven. For the most part I did not get the appeal; the stories were just so….plain. I didn’t think that old men gossiping on a stoep over a cup of coffee could possibly be that interesting, and I filed Bosman away with long droning church services as something to be avoided.

In Tara Notcutt’s production of Mafeking Road however, Andrew Laubscher and Matthew Lewis made me see just how wrong I was. The simplicity of Bosman’s writing, with its thin thread of irony woven throughout, is exactly what makes it so wonderful.

Mafeking Road is physical theatre which blends four of Bosman’s short stories with the wise Oom Schalk Lourens acing as the story teller and sometime protagonist. The stories include In The Withaak’s Shade, and Willem Prinsloo’s Peach Brandy and my favourite The Love Potion.

In language that is truly South African English spotted with the odd Afrikaans phrase, Laubscher and Lewis bring the various characters to life, transporting the Capetonian crowd to the modest surroundings of the Groot Marico. They scale mountains at midnight to pick Juba berries, play an organ and get a little tipsy on Peach Brandy. It was the greatest set with the most interesting props that you’ll never see.

Courtesy of Theatre Scene Cape Town’s #TweetSeats we sat on the gallery, getting a rather unique bird’s eye view of the production. The concept is to promote the show through social media while watching the show. I am proud to say that between the 10 of us in the tweet seats we managed to get the hashtag of the evening, #MafekingRd, trending in Cape Town.

This might not be the absolute best production I have seen this year, but it’s hands down the most fun. We laughed til we cried, and I left the theatre with a new appreciation of South African writing and the actors who bring it to life.

Jana van Heerden
@janadidthis

Mafeking Road runs at the Kalk Bay Theatre 15 August – 8 September 2012.

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