[…] The double bill programming of the New Voices programme means that the second show of the evening draws a smaller audience as many leave during interval. Despite that the auditorium was filled with the presence created by this troupe of actors and dancers on stage. The text is sublimely beautiful, a choreopoem which takes language and creates a musical score to which the movement unfolds. Mtshali has used the experience of being one of only three black students at a private boy’s boarding school in Natal in the 1980’s. The memories he evokes are so vivid you breathe chalk dust and the rarefied atmosphere, feel the pulsating energy of pubescent men exploring their own identities and that of the world around him. Feeling “no longer ourselves” he echoes the themes of multiculturalism introduced in Syria.

Holding on to hope like “an upside down teacup” the poignancy of the poetry is heightened by the narrator played by Komane who is beautiful in this role. Audiences may be more familiar with his dance work but he claims centrestage here with a certainty that is entrancing. Musiker has enjoyed a successful month following the critical claim enjoyed by his piece, #Ballet Must Fall which was awarded silver in the Fresh Production category at the Cape Town Fringe Awards, and he brings a playfulness to his role.

The cast may be dressed with a uniformity, khaki pants and white shirts so reminiscent of private school attire, but each individual performance is striking. At the heart of the play the young man returns to the memories of his childhood, to a time when his mother tongue left him without warning. Makhutshi, his mother is a grieving widow, holding her grief in check with a regal forbearance. There is a moment where she pours sand through her fingers, recalling the particles in an hourglass as time slips away. She builds a tomb- like mound of dust, a reminder of where we all return. She creates another human and seems to breathe life in to it, a reminder that everything, even a lost language is salvageable.

It is a quietly tragic performance where the sheer weight of multiple grief is shared so eloquently with very few words. In sharp contrast are the writhing and contorting bodies on stage, indicative of the inner turmoil of a young man, mesmerizing as the choreography flirts with the acrobatic. The four boys bristle with testosterone, the macho sports culture of high school concentrated in a sequence of planks and rugby tackles. It is difficult to say which is more powerful, the prose or the movement but the perfection of this piece is that they don’t compete but combine seamlessly to draw you in to an unforgettable experience.

The aim of New Voices is “to resuscitate the essence of our nation through excellence in theatrical performances of our stories. These are voices of our common narratives and individuals’ memories that have been deprived of resources, dignity and have, in the past, been under appreciated.” A bold initiative.