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BLACKS LIKE ME (article first published : 2004-10-13)

Blacks Like Me which opened last night at Kwasuka is well worth seeing. It’s the first presentation by East Coast Productions which is a collaboration beween playwright/actor/producer, Aldo Brincat, and arts/heritage/culture consultant, Ntuthuko Khuzwayo.

It’s a heartwarming piece that includes some fun mime sequences and the performances by Ndumiso Dlamini and Siyabonga Radebe are excellent. Being a voice coach, I am always very hard on performers if I can’t hear or understand what they are saying – both Ndumiso and Siyabonga passed with flying colours!

Welcome news for the local theatre scene is that East Coast Productions aims to establish a body of work and a pocket of theatre practitioners who come from KwaZulu-Natal. Aldo has chosen to explore themes of Freedom and uses South Africa's labour force as his situation, explaining that the “production style is inspired by the ‘80s international smash hit Woza Albert out of respect for that amazing theatre work”.

While Aldo’s production notes state that he wanted to explore 10 years of Freedom rather than Democracy, I’m not sure that the play deals with anything more lofty than the simple relationship between two men born of different eras in South Africa.

The setting is a factory, the working place of the two characters: George (Ndumiso Dlamini), a disgruntled and disillusioned man at retirement age, and Simon (Siyabonga Radebe) a young man who is better educated and inquisitive about global events.

Ndumiso is an actor of considerable ability and his performance was robust and full of vitality, with some beautifully handled moments such as his frustrated attempt to read the newspaper, hampered by his illiteracy and fading vision. Siyabonga is a good foil for him, matching his energy with a strong focus and sensitivity. The golfing scene between them is a delight. Hopefully, East Coast Productions will provide further performance opportunities for them.

Aldo readily admits that the production is a work in progress and he welcomes criticism and suggestions. I would like to see a further scene to close the piece where George is seen in his retirement, taking control of his life and using the experience he has gained to his advantage.

Blacks Like Me runs for just under an hour and can be seen at Kwasuka Theatre until October 30, Tuesdays to Saturdays at 19h30. Booking is at Computicket. Tickets R50 (R25 concessions) also available at the door.

There are daily morning performances senior school students at discounted rates. To book call Aldo on 082 823 1602. - Caroline Smart




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