In The Woman Who Would Be King, currently showing at Alexander Upstairs, you don’t only meet Hatshepsut, the first female pharaoh, but you also meet Esosa E, the talented powerhouse that bring her to life on stage.
In this one woman play, Esosa E effortlessly switches between not one, not two, but 11 characters with but the subtle movement of a scarf. Of these characters, the men perhaps resembled each other to some extent, but her female characters each definitely carry themselves as strong individuals with even distinguishable vocal registers which made them all brilliantly unique in delivery and style.
The story of Hatshepsut, the dreamer who idealised her father’s strength as the people’s leader, who aspired to break free of the stereotype of women as secondary, merely subserviently supportive queens to the real rulers, sits well as a ‘historic’ story that still rings true in a modern age. Reminding that even when history tries to chisel away the memory of the first true equal-status activists, their survivor spirit lives on, and leaves a mark that can’t be erased.
From the moment she takes the stage, Esosa E beautifully captures the essence and spirit of Hatshepsut, again showing that a true storyteller does not need smoke and mirrors to make a play impressive. With minimal props and an unembellished set, she through mere skill and technique sketches a technicolour scene of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt that I can still see in my mind’s eye long after having left the theatre. That is the power of theatre done with commitment and vision… it lives on long after the curtain call.
Under the direction of Wynne Bredenkamp, with subtle mesmerising musical tones by composer Tarus Mateen, Esosa E weaves the tale of youth and love lost, but purpose and power (perhaps even respect) gained in such a way that you can understand the struggle of Hatshepsut as she bares all to the audience in her pursuit of her destiny as ordained by the gods.
Talking to fellow patrons after the show, while sipping on Alexander Bar’s delicious cappuccinos, there was absolute agreement: everyone is excited to see Esosa E grow even more into her already impressive stage persona. Cape Town is ready for more Esosa E theatre magic, we hope to see her on stage again soon. But for now, you must all first run and go see her at Alexander Upstairs until 30 April 2016 in The Woman Who Would Be King.