You could tell that the St. Andrews girls had an amazing time creating this production. Lively and exciting energy bounced around the theatre’s walls. The audience acted like toddlers watching Paw Patrol after a rough day at pre-school. I swear, I even saw grumpy, tax-paying adults giggle.
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters begins with a mother telling her two daughters a
fairytale-esque bedtime story. The story is also about two daughters. The mother’s
narration comes to life on stage but is disrupted by a director, who then takes control
of the stage, effectively making the play a fairytale… in a bedtime story… in a
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters has a special kind of nostalgic and childlike quality, which is what made it fun and easy to enjoy. All the elements of the play were tailored to keep
the audience's attention. There was a call and response bit, that the Director did with
the audience - think Dora the Explorer. It drove home the magical, childlike feel of
the whole production.
The characters were colourful, a myriad of fable and fairytale clichés incorporated; A talking tree of wisdom, an old lady, and, of course, a morally questionable snake. The performers took spoof characters and gave them life with exaggerated facial expressions, outrageous body language, and hilariously delivered lines. In combination with the outstanding costumes that perfectly fit the characters so perfectly, it was as if the entire play was a cartoon to life. This was also reinforced with the cartoonish brand of humour and the bright vivid colours used throughout the lighting, props and the rest of the visuals.
Another successful part of the play was how it deviated from the traditional fairytale
allegory, especially illustrated through its ending. I was ecstatic, seeing African elements such as personified animals, African names and Afrikaans caricatures blended into the
western structure of the fairytale and the African structure of the fable.
However, certain elements made me uncomfortable and prohibited me from
completely enjoying the play. Stereotypes concerning black women were portrayed
and not subverted which can be harmful. They did not subvert or mock these
stereotypes, as they did to other social norms concerning women, which is what
made the matter stand out to me.
That being my only criticism, the play was perfectly hilarious and enjoyable. If I met someone, who believed plays to be stuffy and boring; I would take them to see
this play, and watch them change their minds by intermission.
written by Nokukhanya Sibanda
copyedited by Ashley Allard
photographs courtesy of FEDA