South African Road Trip: Good Hope – Review

IF you want to inject a mighty dose of hope into your life, the South African Road Trip: Good Hope will provide just the boost you require.

More uplifting than a bottle of Fever-tree Damson & Sloe infused tonic, it will fill you with a belief (for a while, at least) that the world is not that bad a place after all. That music binds us as one. It will remind you that despite terrifying wars and geopolitical posturing, there are plenty of forces for good playing out in the world.

Performing at the Peacock Theatre (Sadler’s Wells in Holborn) just up the road from Aldwych in London, this collection of South African singers and musicians – fourteen strong – makes for thrilling entertainment.

For an hour and 45 minutes, they delight the audience with songs about love, the weather, personal pain and God. Changing between traditional and more modern clothing, the bold vibrant colours of their attire (bright yellows, greens and reds) send out a loud message of a brighter future. Dorien de Jonge has done a marvellous job designing such striking outfits while the choreography of Silumko Koyana is top drawer. Sunglasses are recommended.

The fact that the songs are performed in the Xhosa language adds mightily to the occasion – you don’t need to understand the words. Your soul knows what they mean.  The clicking sounds the performers emit from their mouths are mesmerising.

In between the music and the magical dancing, we are told via two humongous screens at the back of the stage a little bit about the performers.

Music has united them and given them the inspiration to fulfil their dreams: whether it’s becoming a theatre director, getting married or buying their own home.  Inspiring.

Some have observed abuse at close quarters and come out the other end. One talks about the monster of a father who she was afraid of because he ‘used to beat my Mum’. Horrific.

‘Music is my soulmate, my boyfriend,’ says another. Beautiful.

The screens also provide videos (historic and current) of township life in South Africa. Poverty is everywhere, but the pictures are more uplifting than depressing (people get on with their lives, usually with smiles on their faces). It’s where the cast came from – and they’re mightily proud of their roots.

The ensemble comprises eight fine men from the  Khayeltisha United Mambazo Choir – all ages and all remarkably sprightly as they kick their feet high into the stratosphere – and four superb female Xhosa singers.

Completing the team are two wonderful percussionists, Sabu Jiyana and Mkokeli Moses Masala. Amongst them all are brothers and sisters and long-standing friends. They’re united – as one.  ‘Love is God.’ ‘We need love.’

Then: ‘Let’s share love,’ we are told at the end by the magnificent Lungiswa Theodora Plaatjes. ‘We are one.’

If only it was a message universally embraced. This musical delight is uplifting. It runs until October 30.  Catch it if you can. If you haven’t danced before, this show will get you off your seat. High kicking is not recommended.


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