Malindadzimu is a play written by Mufaro Makubika that follows a mother and daughter duo on a journey as they discover their ancestry in Zimbabwe.
The opening scene unfolds in Nottingham at a hospital where Hope (Kudzai Mangombe) is recovering post overdose. Her mother Faith (Shyko Amos) decided to take her teenage daughter back ‘home’ in an effort to help re-centre her mental health. They are met by elder Gogo (the caretaker of the property Faith has taken over, played by Natasha Williams) who helps Hope to connect with Zimbabwe, but Hope is haunted by her ancestors' spirits.
The history of coloniser Cecil John Rhodes provides a political undercurrent to the story as the ancestors ask for a reckoning from daughter Hope in lucid visions. Faith laughs at African traditions and doesn’t believe in Hope’s visions until a healing ceremony brings the play to a satisfying close: a final sequence bravely staged, where we see the truth about the tradition that faith has been covering up.
Makubika’s text is authentically written. The piece unfolds at a steady pace and doesn’t feel laboured at all. As a South African native, the cultural accuracy really resonated with me.
The play marks Monique Touko’s directing debut. It is a real feat. The complex three-way storyline has been unpicked very well. An enjoyable watch as the staging is detailed and precise but the actors are still able to play. The nods to heritage and characters are brilliantly done and the comedy well balanced with the demanding themes of the piece.
Natasha Williams brings joy and spirit to the stage that propels the piece forwards. Kudzai Mangombe makes a commanding debut. Another stand out performance comes from Tendai Humphrey Sitima who multi roles and sings with beautiful tenderness.
The set stage design by Zoë Hurwitz is clever: the set is transitioned seamlessly from a hospital to Africa to a ceremony by the cast. Sound design by Max Pappenheim electrifies the space. The piece works very well for the Hampstead downstairs but could also translate well on the main stage.
Malindadzimu is an intense show about heritage, history and family: stories that not often are told on our stages in such a dramatic and touching way.
It runs until 30th October 2021.
Review: Nicole Botha Photo: Robert Day
For Faith and her teenage daughter Hope, it seems as though growing up inevitably means growing apart. So Faith makes the drastic decision to move the family back to her native Zimbabwe to start over. It’s home for her but not for Hope – at least, not on the surface… Will the powers that have drawn them back to their roots help them find each other – and themselves?
Mufaro Makubika’s new play – delicate, witty and epic in equal measure – travels from Nottingham to Zimbabwe to explore a mother and daughter’s search for belonging, their struggle with a multicultural heritage, and a haunting history that cannot be ignored.
The cast includes Shyko Amos (An Octoroon, Soho Rep New York), Sifiso Mazibuko (Hamilton, West End), Tendai Humphrey Sitima (The Great Gatsby, Immersive LDN), Natasha Williams (Off the Endz, Royal Court) and Kudzai Mangombe