Kulani Nkuna
1 minute read
16 Oct 2013
6:00 am

Exploring Fifties shebeen life in ‘Nongogo’

Kulani Nkuna

Quality oozes all around the halls of the Market Theatre in Newtown.

The theatre enthusiast or first-timer can literally close their eyes and pick one production and it is guaranteed that they will be thoroughly entertained, moved, given hope and shared laughter and leave the space enriched.

Mbongeni Ngema’s The Zulu, is in full swing, Hayani, with Atandwa Kani and Nat Ramabulana, is a crowd-pleaser and James Ngcobo’s Nongogo immerses the audience in the story from beginning to end. You cannot go wrong.

Nongogo, written by Athol Fugard, is an actor’s story and the ensemble of Tony Kgoroge, Hamilton Dlamini, Fana Mokoena, Masasa Mbangeni and Desmond Dube under the tutelage of Ngcobo does not set a foot wrong.

The play was written in the 50s and is rich in beautiful and sometimes poetic dialogue. It takes place in a township shebeen run by a shebeen queen known as Queenie. The show has a beautiful hint of romance that is not realised when Queenie falls for Johnny, a travelling salesman.

Mokoena is resplendent as Sam the businessman, Kgoroge is terrific as the gentle Johhny, Dube lives the pain of the hunchback, Blackie, Dlamini becomes the neighbourhood drunk as Patrick and Mbangeni excels with steely resolve as the gentle but tough shebeen queen. Nongogo is worth seeing on more than one occasion.