I wasn’t feeling the best last week. I had a tummy ache and was a bit under the weather. In truth, I needed an early duvet night, but a trip to Sadler’s Wells theatre had been on the cards for weeks and I didn’t have the heart to cancel. The vibrant posters for new musical production Mother Africa Khayelitsha – My Home, had piqued my interest from the start of the year and looked like just the antidote needed as we power through the final stretch of winter. Produced by Tanzanian based circus company, Mother Africa, the aim of the company is to bring performers from across The Continent – dancers, tightrope artists, acrobats – to demonstrate the harmony they have for each other no matter the ethnical, language and religious differences.
While I wouldn’t say that the circus is my thing, I do recall going to see Afrika Afrika! what seems like many moons ago and being absolutely enthralled by the magic of it all. If this production was anything like that, I thought to myself, I’d walk away feeling like one happy customer. Within minutes I knew that this would be the case, as the cast of Mother Africa took to the stage to perform a dance number dressed in colourful garb and putting down some serious high-octane, intricate dance routines. Next, a juggling artist came on and performed a series of stunts with the live band backing her by playing a series of High Life, Afrobeat and a few surprising calypso classics such as Hot Hot Hot and Long Time, both by the mighty Arrow (stomach ache? What stomach ache).
The same format would follow suit for the duration of the show: an individual act would perform, followed by a group performance from the dancers. There is no obvious storyline as such, it’s more about capturing the spirit and essence of the bustling South African township, Khayelitsha, and how resourceful, ingenious and naturally ebullient its inhabitants are.
Of course, the longer the show goes on, the higher the stakes with regards to the stunts. Standing on sky-high cranes, climbing onto towering ladders and balancing on top with a handstand – it definitely was a sight to behold, a timely reminder of the miraculous physical feats that can be achieved through raw talent, practice, bravery and faith. There were a few hair-raising moments that made all the air from my body escape momentarily, causing us audience members to gasp… can he/she do it? Will they fall? How quickly can the ambulance get here? Thankfully there were only a few minor mishaps, and this, in fact, added to the show by humanising the performers, reminding us that what we were experiencing was indeed live and all too real. An incredibly inspiring production, a real feel-good production for all the family to enjoy. Hurry, it ends this Saturday so book tickets now right here.