Posts Tagged ‘Pauline Malefane’

My relationship with this captivating show goes back to 2001 when its South African company first brought it to the wonderful Wilton’s Music Hall. It’s been round the world a few times since then, but now it’s back in the equally wonderful Sam Wanamaker Playhouse for an all too brief visit and its just as thrilling.

Isango take the Chester cycle as their starting point. We go from creation and Adam & Eve through the nativity and the resurrection to the last judgement. With colourful costumes and a few props, it zips along through some 25 scenes in less than two hours playing time. They vary in length and tone, with the Noah scene hugely funny, the heart-breaking slaughter of the innocents and a deeply moving crucifixion. It is performed in Xhosa, Zulu, Afrikaans and Latin as well as English, but it doesn’t seem to matter – these stories are well known. There is glorious unaccompanied singing throughout. Both God and Satan are women, the latter in red bodice and torn leather trousers cast into the stage pit! Just nine performers create this piece, led by the incomparable Pauline Malefane.

Isango have their roots and their hearts in the townships and music permeates everything they do. They’ve given us brilliant re-interpretations of operas like Carmen, La Boheme and The Magic Flute (I will never forget that opera’s iconic overture played on wooden xylophones) and made a major contribution to Globe to Globe with their terrific Venus & Adonis. The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is the perfect venue for them and for this. Don’t miss this truly uplifting experience.

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