The System, written by Kgosana Thekwana and directed by Seiphemo Motswiri, jolts the audience out of their comfort zone from the start, as we see three men escape from prison and attempt to evade recapture. Once they reach a relatively safe haven, their disparate stories are told in flashbacks, facilitated by singing and choreographed movement and dance performed by Nkosi Yvonne, Sello Maepa, Xolani Dlamini, Ikobeng Motlhoadi, and James Mankgaba.
While the movement, mime, and vocalisation are engaging, the dialogue seems stilted and overindulgent in places, which hampers the momentum. In fact, it wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to say that the more melodramatic verbal interactions make the production resemble a daytime soap where everyone’s dressed in very bright jumpsuits.
Some of the more problematic textual elements, like the appearance of an overly camp waiter, the brief cameo featuring a praying Muslim shopkeeper, and the inclusion of a false rape allegation as a form of revenge, leave one wondering how appropriate this production is for its stated target audience of high school learners.
If you enjoy inventive physical theatre performed with enthusiasm, you may be able to overlook this production’s less successful elements.
The System is part of the Cape Town Fringe Festival and can be seen for one more performance at P4 Studio on the 26th of September.