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South African Road Trip: Good Hope | Review

South African Road Trip has been touring the world since 2006 presenting their “swinging and exuberant musical experience, including uplifting songs, close harmony and invigorating dance and music”.

The cast is led by eight men from the Khayelitsha United Mambazo Choir and four female singers, with musical accompaniment by two marimba players, Mkokeli Moses Masala and Sabu Jiyana.

South African Road Trip - Photo by Roeltje van de Sande Bakhuysen.
South African Road Trip – Photo by Roeltje van de Sande Bakhuysen.

In fact, it is these two players who are the undoubted highlight of Good Hope. In the second half of this 95-minute evening with no interval, they are allowed to play several solos and a duet and Masala especially proves to be a highly talented exponent of this rarely heard instrument – even if he plays it as if trying to batter it into submission. It is a shame that both players are not given more exposure.

The singers hail from the townships around Cape Town and are exponents of a type of South African a capella singing made famous, we are told, “by Paul Simon through his album Graceland” and which is called isicathamiya.

This song and dance show is certainly exuberant: two giant video screens (Stefan Hunter) form a backdrop onto which are projected scenes from life in the townships as well as scenes of the South African countryside, wild animals and interviews with the performers. In fact, at times one did not know where to look as the videos were constantly changing and quite hypnotic.

The traditional songs showcased in the show were mostly fairly similar to each other, being quite repetitive both rhythmically and melodically. Very occasionally there was a brief introduction to a number in English, but this was the exception rather than the rule. As there were video screens, it would have greatly added understanding and enjoyment if an English translation or at least a summary of each song could have been projected. It is very difficult to listen and watch a succession of very similar songs and dances for more than an hour and a half, having no idea what they are about!

Simple, again repetitive, well drilled and often effective choreography was by Silumko Koyana, the second part of the evening having superbly inventive costume designs by Dorien de Jonge. The overall director was Albert Klein Kranenburg.

The musical supervisor, presumably responsible for the simple yet effective musical arrangements, was Jeroen Sleyfer.

3 Star Review

Review by John Groves

South African Road Trip’s ‘Good Hope’ is a swinging and exuberant musical experience, including uplifting songs, sensitive songs, close harmony and invigorating dance and music.

The cast, led by the accomplished men of the Khayelitsha United Mambazo Choir and four renowned female Xhosa singers, with musical accompaniment of two imposing South-African musicians, all hail from the Langa, Nyanga, Khayelitsha townships around Cape Town, and are conquering the world with their Xhosa songs, dance and music.

Cast:
Bulelani Zola Qumza, Thanduxolo Arthur Qumza, Xolisile Sydney Hobhoshe, Simphiwe Een Hobhoshe, Mzwabantu Eric Dunywa, Zwelandile Mbedu, Melumzi Bethwell Nyikana, Lindisipho Lennox Tsawe, Nontutuzelo Nyiki, Nomapostile Nyiki, Xoliswa Tom, Lungiswa Plaatjies, Sabu Jiyana, Mkokeli Moses Masala (Kim)

Creative team:
Producer: Inge Bos, Bos Theaterproducties Amsterdam
Director: Albert Klein Kranenburg
Musical Supervisor: Jeroen Sleyfer
Choreography: Silumko Koyana
Video Design: Catharina Scholten
Video footage: Stefan Hurter
Costume Design: Dorien de Jonge
Lighting Design: Bart van den Heuvel

LISTINGS INFO
Bos Theaterproducties presents
South African Road Trip: Good Hope
Director: Albert Klein Kranenburg
Musical Supervisor: Jeroen Sleyfer
Choreography: Silumko Koyana

Peacock Theatre
Portugal St,
London WC2A 2HT

Tuesday 25 October – Saturday 5 November 2022
www.sadlerswells.com

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Author

  • John Groves

    John Groves studied singing with Robert Easton and conducting with Clive Timms. He was lucky enough to act in the British premiere of a Strindberg play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe more years ago than he cares to remember, as well as singing at the Royal Opera House - once! He taught drama and music at several schools, as well as examining the practical aspects of GCSE and A level drama for many years. For twenty five years he has conducted a brass band as well as living on one of the highest points of East Sussex surrounded by woodland, deer, foxes and badgers, with kites and buzzards flying overhead.

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