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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.
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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mwana, theatre review

Published in the Guardian
Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Two stars

THE scene is a house in Harare where preparations are nearing completion for a wedding. The excitement is all the more intense because of the return of Mwana, the groom's brother, just off the plane from Glasgow in the company of Kirsten, his Scottish girlfriend. Mwana is the family's golden boy, the son destined to join his father's medical practice when his graduation papers come through.

Like so many golden boys before him - Biff in Death of a Salesman, Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Mwana is destined to let his family down. In Tawona Sitholé's debut play for Ankur Productions and the Tron, Mwana arrives full of western promise, knowing it is only a matter of time before his failed degree catches up with him.

So while Kirsten, an aspiring anthropologist, is being delighted by Zimbabwe's pre-nuptial rituals, Mwana is in a social limbo. Having turned his back on one culture, he has been rejected by another.

Sitholé's play has sequences of great lucidity - particularly the sweetly drawn scenes between Denver Isaac's Mwana and Mairi Philips's Kirsten - but dramaturgically, it is all over the place. Rather than get its teeth into the culture clash dilemma, the play restlessly shifts in and out of focus - an inconsequential domestic discussion here, an irrelevant wedding conga there - so we never get the measure of the issues at stake.

No one seems much concerned that Mwana's profligacy has nearly brought the wedding to an end, and the young man never fully articulates what his displacement means to him. Shabina Aslam's production is full of colourful details - projections, video sequences and incursions of apple sellers into the audience - but such extravagances only add extra layers of uncertainty as to what this play is truly about.

© Mark Fisher, 2012
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