Writers: Percy Mtwa, Mbongeni Ngema and Barney Simon
Director: Prince Lamla
Reviewer: Deborah Klayman
More than 30 years after it was written and 18 years after the policy of Apartheid officially ended in South Africa, the well-known political satire Woza Albert! somehow remains as funny and as relevant as ever. Addressing social inequality and the subjugation of one race by another for no reason other than skin colour, all of the themes can still be applied to daily life in any countries in the world where racism and bigotry still exist.
A two-hander play comprised of twenty-six scenes, Woza Albert! has two main sections. The first is a series of vignettes showing a day in the life of a typical black man, from the humiliation of having to carry pass books to threats of being sacked if you became too demanding by bosses in amusing pink clown noses. These characters are then asked what will happen when Morena (Christ) returns, and most reply that they just want to get rid of their pass books, the icon of Apartheid. In the second part of the play, Morena returns and, echoing the bible, is treated poorly – first welcomed then imprisoned. Placed on Robben Island (like Mandela), he walks across the bay and returns to the mainland where he begins to resurrect those lost in the struggle, exclaiming Woza! (Rise!) to the eponymous Albert Luthuli and Steve Biko.
The performers show extraordinary diversity and range, with Mncedisi Baldwin Shabangu particularly delighting the audience with his hilarious enactment of an old man threading a needle. Both he and Peter Mashigo show enormous versatility, though it is hard to understand what they are saying from time to time. With glorious contradiction, Mashigo portray both the Prime Minister and the Saviour, playing both with integrity. Funny, poignant and still relevant, this production is one that should not be missed.
Until 27th August