Undermined: A hot little nugget

Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi & cast in Undermined. Photo: CuePix/Sithasolwazi Kentane

Undermined got a standing ovation and the youth, who made up most of the audience, chattered excitedly all the way out the gate of the Princess Alice Hall.

A comic-book styled African story about Jim comes to Jo’burg to become a miner (actually a Mozambican peasant) could feel odd without a single reference to the longest and most brutal miners’ strike in SA history, but that is perhaps the play’s strength. It comes at the horror of mining from a different angle.

In fact, at a stretch, this is a piece that progressive mining houses might want to support for its educational side. Then again, the characterisation of mine bosses as callous, money-grubbing despots propped up by bum-kissing middle-management, might make this too much of an ask.

Three actors, comprise a pleasing multi-cultural mix who keep the pace shu-shu. The dancing, harmonising and character shifts are shap-shap, the story told at a rollicking pace and we are swept along by players who seem to be relishing their work.

The theatrical techniques are dazzling and Tara Notcutt’s direction is marvellous.

My only hmm moment was when our hero spears a leopard to death in order to become a man. Surely there’s an alternative rite, because soon the only slaughter of these rare creatures will be in scripts.

Undermined is a small, hot little nugget and I think I saw Johnny Clegg in the back row… or not.

— Mike Loewe

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