The blurb really tells the whole story: Zenzele arrives in Soweto to find his hero, Uncle Bongo, is now a drunken lingerie salesman and the famous Soweto Starbrites group long defunct – but Zenzele's youthful enthusiasm wins through, the group reforms, Bongo is reunited with his former woman, and everybody's happy. It's a product of that time of hope in South Africa, between Mandela's release and the faction-fighting; as such, it carries no Message – it's simply fun.
The show belongs to the puppets: disembodied petticoats shake their invisible hips, a female puppet makes love to Zenzele, alley-cats fight... the two live actors are simply in the foreground of a vast puppet Soweto (no, it's not a metaphor). The publicity alerts audiences not to expect another Woza Albert!; be prepared to enjoy yourself, and you will.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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