Absurd expose of folly
Rarely do playwrights venture into something as mythical as the Theatre of the Absurd, but Princess Zinzi Mhlongo who, aged 27, was voted one of the top-200 most influential youths last year, tackled this with her eyes wide open and conquered it.
Showing at Hillbrow's Windybrow Theatre in Joburg last week, Trapped demonstrates Mhlongo's ability as both a writer and director.
The play presents the typically absurdist cycle - ending exactly the way it started - to such an extent that the audience needs someone who has seen it before to know when it's time to clap and leave so as not to continue waiting for the silence to end.
Silence, as it turns out, is one of the characteristics of this particular genre, and the illusion Mhlongo creates by ending the play the same way she starts it, in silence, is such that during the one-hour performance, the audience enters what Michael Jackson termed "a mindless void" - a hole bigger than Kimberley's and filled with more mysticism than the North Atlantic's Devil's Triangle.
No expectations that the Windybrow cast would improvise on the script by adding inconsequential ummhhs and wherefores were realised in Trapped. The actors are well drilled and recite the script, you feel, the way it was intended to be.
Rantebeng Makapan, who played Thomas Mashaba in Generations, leads the cast of four mythical creatures whose default costume is a bodysuit with a hood and veil to obscure the face.
Makapan is in his element playing a gay obstacle to the fame and fortune being sought by so many of the youth. He's the hangman at the ready to execute those who fall short of their aspirations.
This parody of the tail that wags the dog off its legs weirdly tells of a lost generation thrown out of sync with itself by the South African tag-line of "Alive with Possibility" and their haste to find the elusive pot of gold that breeds dysfunction.
This is quite apt for the current period of industrial, economic and state dysfunction.
Absurdist theatre is an acquired taste, hardly material for the typical theatre-goer, let alone Windybrow patrons.
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