Tue 28th October – Sat 1st November 2014


Amanda Brown

at 08:17 on 29th Oct 2014



Be sure to grab a ticket to 'Sophiatown': a beautifully crafted drama reminiscing the pain of racially segregated 1950's South Africa. 'Sophiatown' is a deeply moving musical set in a freehold 1950s township in Johannesburg. Steeped in the clutches of apartheid, the audience is transported to the chaotic world of idealist intellectual, Jakes (Feriha Mugisha) who is desperate for his short stories to make a positive change in the politically volatile South African town.

The play opens with the audience being handed apartheid-style identity cards- immersing the viewer into the then inescapably prejudiced South Africa. Anticipation mounts with the pulse of the African drums and not before long, the stage comes to life with vibrant colours and the strong chorus of the cast and band.

Justina Kehinde Ogunseitan directs a powerfully poignant play, showing the devastating effects of racial and geographical segregation as well as governmental tyranny. Within the shebeen of the loving Mamariti (Njoki Wamai), the action takes place in the sitting room. In those four walls, we see the cheeky yet charming Lulu (Jess Matsebula) become disillusioned with her racist education, Mingus (Alex Diene), an explosive gangster, get beaten by the law, we see politician-cum mystic Fafhee (Precious Oyelade) roused into violent freedom fighting, and their white Jewish tenant Ruth Golden (Sophie Grant) learn that the binary of black and white is strung in too violent an opposition for her to ever reconcile. Under the glimmer of illegal bar lights and surrounded by the blare of jazz, Princess (Kamogelo Thutoetsile)- Mingus' social-climber-girlfriend seeks a man who will really love her, and all henchman Charlie (Wale Awoyinka) really wants is safety, and a pair of shoes to shine. Tied together by African- language musical numbers and the narration of Jakes, the audience is taken on a journey from the house's initial fascination of revolt, to contemplation of the real deal, when they are hit with the sickening reality of homelessness and police violence.

The play got off to a slow (and a little cumbersome) start, with some musical numbers sometimes lacking in energy, and the voice-over being lost in the music, but with an explosive post-interval Mbube number, an electric buzz was injected into the play, mirroring the terror and high tension caused by the impending bulldozers and the anger and fear of demobilization.

Towards the end of the play, the mood was definitively more sombre and largely reflective. Within the recital of a beautifully sung Isicathamiya song (hats off to Gilmore Wellio), the audience hear tragic accounts of what befell the characters after their forced removal. In addition to this, a deeply stirring rendition is offered at the end, in which the director breaks down the fourth wall, inviting audience participation in a moment of silence, in which the names of freedom fighters are read.

Over-all, the quality of the delivery from certain characters was sometimes a little rushed, and difficult to follow, but the dynamism between all cast members was definitely tangible. With particularly strong performances from Kamogelo Thutoetsile and Jess Matsebula, the performance was in toto very passionate and I was very affected by it.

Deeply plaintive and at times delightfully funny, 'Sophiatown' is a must-see! Get your tickets today!


Audience Avg.

2 votes, 0 comments

Click here for more event information

cast involved

other events on

Version 0.3.7a