Theatre productions generally tend to provide their viewers with a sense of escapism, a break from real life, if you will ... Nat!, Rosebank Theatre's current offering, does not, making for a refreshing and welcoming start to what is sure to be a year of great theatre in 2015.
A Rust Co-Operative production, written and directed by the impressive Penny Youngleson and based on the work she does with the children she teaches at the Batswood Arts Centre in Grassy Park, Nat! stars Iman Isaacs, Indalo Stofile and Richard September.
This riveting drama is slap-in-your-face realistic about the horrors that the disadvantaged youth of the Mother City face. Set on the Cape Flats, this show highlights the issues of teenage pregnancy, alcoholic parents, child abuse, rape and peer pressure that the children in these communities must endure.
Isaacs, September and Stofile, play three teenagers, who form their own little gang called 'The Cannibal Kids'. A brutal attack befalls them on Guy Fawkes and we are given a harrowing look into their plight and their history, through a captivating mixture of movement, storytelling and narration.
I was raised on the Flats, and I am all too familiar with the fear, violence and general mayhem that ensues around November 5th each year. I applaud both actors and writer for bringing this often-neglected issue to the fore in such a dramatic format - Isaacs' performance, in particular, held me in awe. Her ability to convey the tough facade of her character, with a raw vulnerability just peeking below the surface, through a series of facial expressions is a true sight to behold.
This is not a feel-good show and it's not meant to be - the discomfort you experience will niggle at you and make you wonder what you can do to help these children have a childhood. Go see the show, and be inspired to make a change in a child's life - I know I have.
Nat! runs at Rosebank Theatre until 31 January, 2015. Tickets are R 100 and are available online at Webtickets.
Scene It by Fazielah Williams.