The (sur)reality of protest

One man’s meat is another man’s murder, or, in this case, one man’s shit is another man’s pay cheque.

This truism is often overlooked amidst the daily protests occurring across South Africa.
Residents protesting over housing allocations are at the cost of others’ rights to a solid home, workers protests for higher wages spell job losses for others.

In Lunch, the installation of water-borne sewerage in a township spells redundancy for the shit bucket collectors.

Perhaps it’s a play the Social Justice Coalition should book up for all its activists to watch – they can support the arts and give themselves something pertinent to think about.
Ok, I’m being a bit facetious, there’s more to it than that. It’s a great premise for a play though, and creates the setting for good comedic – or sorry, is that satirical? – moments.
Workers toy-toying with placards reading “we want more shit” being one of them.
There’s also the battle between age and youth in the narrative, a narrative often interrupted by delightful physical theatre asides illustrating the often desperate quirks and pitfalls of township life.

Writer and director Sizwe Mcaka works the stage well and avoids the writer/director error of being long winded. He also acts in his play, doing a competent job as the elder municipal worker Bra Jesu while Sankelo Nkabi and Thembisile Mnisi are proficient, but all need to think about their mime work, which is sloppy and unbelievable.

Fortunately, mime forms a minor element of the work so does not derail the play, which offers a snappy, entertaining yet sincere, and unusual, view on complex issues of community politics and protest.

This group of theatre makers from Johannesburg deserves to have far more people watching than the two of us they sweated so hard for during their first run at lunch hour yesterday.

Lunch is on at the City Hall today and tomorrow (2 and 3 October) during the Cape Town Fringe.

— Steve Kretzmann

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