Lerato Mmutle is a writer and narrator of tales that have the audio-visual impact of a David Lynch film: full of mystery and beauty… but in a South African setting.
They are stories of murderous magicians; of a suburbanite riven with suicidal guilt at his own apathetic inertia after a neighbour’s killing; tales of the twilight Disneyland of Long Street, its characters fleshed out in neon bravado.
Anthemic and subversively ironic, Mmutle’s portraits reveal a canny eye for the exotic and the quixotic in the common passerby. Aural kisses to the underbelly world of tortured heroines and bumbling policemen, the narratives astonish with their perfumed barbed-wire sensibility.
Such stories ache for release from the page, and have been granted their wish via a musical collaboration with accomplished music producer Gabi Le Roux.
Each of the 12 stories has been distilled into a song with a rousingly appropriate track to which the ever-surprising Mmutle sings, sighs and breathes out the humorously chaotic turmoil of her protagonists. Motown and funk give way to glitch gothic as a canvas for a seductive voice that burns a trail across the stage.
In her multifaceted fusion of reading and torch songs, this literary diva is not afraid to launch into a saxophone solo if only to add another brassy spice to the proceedings. And with her fine sense for the theatrical, she mesmerizes her audience with her ear for dialogue and damnation while also keeping the eye engaged with some impressive costumes.
Miao therefore is the perfect venue: ornately decadent yet sophisticated venue and quirky, it is a place where sustenance and décor compete for the senses.
Jaroslav Kalac was invited to attend a final rehearsal for At the Margins of Conformity which takes place at Miao restaurant in De Waterkant on 12 July 2014.