Thursday, 16 February 2012

Mwana


Tron Theatre, Glasgow
3 stars
Mwana is a Zimbabwean young man exiled to Glasgow to study medicine, 
but carrying the weight of his family’s expectations to a land of 
material temptations. Mwana’s return home for his brother’s wedding 
should be heroic. As it is, the initial flash of his limited edition 
trainers and a white Glaswegian girlfriend soon pales beside a letter 
 from his university confirming the worst. Somewhere inbetween, cultural 
suspicions are flipped on their head in a drought-ridden society torn 
between old superstitions and the promise of a strictly scientific 
future where rain promises salvation rather than an ongoing head-cold.

So it goes in Tawona Sithole’s debut play, a co-production between the 
multi-cultural based Ankur and The Tron. Opening with an out-front 
declaration from Denver Isaac’s Mwana, Shabina Aslam’s production mixes 
forms and styles in a busy display to allow Sithole to make his point. 
Pulsed along by Mark Melville’s African-fused sound design, and with 
Kim Beveridge’s brooding video backdrop to punctuate the play’s darker 
moments beyond the open mike ridiculousness of the wedding DJ, at times 
all this feels too much for what is essentially a cross-cultural rites 
of passage.

If the play’s construction is compromised, Sithole nevertheless 
possesses considerable fire as a writer, with plenty of poetic colour 
in his language that overshadows the play’s more naturalistic exchanges 
in a story that is told from a rarely seen perspective.

Sithole’s worldview is punctuated even further by an epilogue/finale by 
Justin Philmore Brown, who won Ankur’s Storytelling Slam competition to 
write and perform a new song. Philmore Brown croons with the honeyed 
tones of Jimmy Cliff. He and Sithole should get together.

The Herald, February 16th 2012

ends

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