Musical brings beauty to women’s struggle
WHILE there is nothing elegant about suffering, an allwomen ensemble in The Tellers musical, which premiered last Wednesday at the Bulawayo Theatre, did an excellent job.
They beautifully unpacked the grim lives of Zimbabwean women toiling under economically uncertain times and the turmoil of less-than perfect relationships.
Commerce and love mingle in the Raisedon Baya penned play, as a talented cast of women illustrated how their hearts and minds had been battered by men who crept into their lives with the promise of love, only to leave disappointment and heartbreak when they slithered away.
Perhaps this is the most ironic thing about The Tellers. Despite featuring an all-female cast, the play is as much about men as it is about the women.
The character who best illustrates the play’s issues is shop hand NaNtuli, who with her trusted broom, is always sweeping around diligently despite endless abuse from her superiors.
She represents long suffering Zimbabwean women whose spouses work outside the country. After a long wait for him to come home, she discovers from the women in his secret life that he is bed-ridden.
This revelation is hard for her to swallow, despite the fact that the bar had been set so low for her that she was content with the groceries that he sent for his son, Striker.
Neither love nor affection but groceries, it seems, are the glue that has kept their distant union intact. Under such circumstances, struggling as she is financially, she is likely to be left to sweep away the mess he leaves behind, much like the way she brushes away the dirt that accumulates at the store.
From cheating absentee fathers and irresponsible husbands, deadbeat men are the thread that connects the diverse women, working at a struggling store, in the play which ended its brief run two evenings after its rousing debut last Wednesday.
Cast in roles that they seem to have been born to play, multi talented performers Lady Tshawe and Donna N were the sparkling play’s brightest sparks on the opening night.
Spotting outfits that seemed more appropriate for naughty high school girls than working women, the two were the dynamos that powered the play as, playing a pair of gossip loving, energetic cashiers, they were the nerve centre from which the other women’s stories branched from.
As it is a musical, song is an integral part of the play and with their powerful voices the two were always bound to shine in this aspect of the production.
While it is undeniable that Donna N and Lady Tshawe can sing with the angels, their talents were enhanced by the live band which is an integral part of the musical.
This part of the production forcefully brought it home to the audience that The Tellers were there not only to feed the eye, but the ear as well, as the band expertly navigated the musical interludes that punctuate the play.
The band also benefited from a clever manipulation of the stage lights as, playing from behind what seems like a thin see through curtain, they were only visible once the lights were turned on in their section.
Thus the band became a somewhat sinister yet beautiful part of the production, as it was rarely seen although its elegant touch was felt whenever necessary.
The Tellers cast performs at Bulawayo Theatre (Picture by Mgcini Nyoni)