Writer: Zoey Martinson
Reviewer: David Doyle
Ndebele Funeral is a searing and often brutal exploration of post-apartheid South Africa. The play centres on Thandi, who is living out the last of her days in a shack in Soweto, a once brilliant medical student who is now dying from AIDS. Spending her final days building her own coffin, Thandi is interrupted by calls from the white government worker trying to inspect her use of the building materials, and her old friend Mondisi. Their three worlds collide and offer a powerful glimpse at life in the Rainbow Nation.
Coupled with singing and music, the piece is a well constructed piece of theatre with some wonderfully realised characters. Much of the early parts of the play is characters talking, building both the world around them and their own lives through smartly written dialogue. Taking a relatively simple concept, Zoey Martinson’s writing elevates the to a much more potent piece.
The show is somewhat slow to build initially and there is a sense that some of the pieces exploring Mondisi and Thandi’s early relationship could be trimmed to give the show a leaner feeling that might help the pacing and capture the power of the end of the piece in the earlier moments.
This is a powerfully political piece which explores life in a country undergoing significant change. Exploring the HIV/AIDS epidemic within the country, the explosion of violent crime, and perhaps most significantly the disappointment surrounding the lack of change brought by the ANC after coming to power. At its heart this is a deeply moving piece about the nature of friendship and as it hurtles towards its conclusion the piece has a real, visceral power.
Runs until 30 August 2015