Writer: Dr Sindiwe Magona
Director: Janice Honeyman
Reviewer: Deborah Klayman
The Public Reviews Rating:
On 25th August 1993, just months before South Africa celebrated democratic elections, American student Amy Biehl was murdered by youths from the Guguletu township. Based on a true story, Mother to Mother - a one woman play adapted from Dr Sindiwe Magona’s book of the same name – shows this difficult period in South Africa’s history through the eyes of Mandisa, the mother of one of the boys accused of killing Amy. Despite utilising various media such as film clips, stills, songs and speech to tell the story the piece still has a breathtaking simplicity and integrity and was both engaging and moving in equal measure.
Set against the backdrop of a South Africa just before the beginning of the end of Apartheid, Mandisa describes a township and a country full of furious, disenfranchised young people who would rather burn their school than attend it. Despairing of what will come of her own children she is nonetheless forced to leave them for the majority of the day as, being the only breadwinner, she works or they starve. In place of parents, radicals have inspired and enraged the youth on the street, stirring them to action with slogans such as “Liberation Before Education”. It is this anger and desperation that ultimately causes Amy’s death, although as Mandisa says her son is still responsible for the fact that Amy’s mother will never see her again.
Essentially a direct address from Mandisa to Amy’s mother, Thembi Mtshali-Jones gives a truly outstanding performance in the central role, wringing every possible emotion from the text including surprising moments of comedy and joy. Her song at the end of the play was heart-wrenching, and the care with which she drew each character and placed each moment was truly a masterclass in acting. A superb production that shouldn’t be missed.
Until 27th August
Edinburgh Fringe: Mother to Mother – Assembly George Square ,