And the girls in their Sunday dresses: Breaking free from limbo


Still want to know what is wrong with the country? Watch And the girls in their Sunday Dresses.

Waiting, that not-so-fine SA tradition, is given a good whacking by Zakes Mda in this script. Brenda-Lee Cele has finely directed Nompilo Jili and Pertunia Msani to draw out the fire in the ember of Mda’s scathing assault on the new bureaucracy.

This is a women’s play, about women, performed by women directed by women.

Black women.

It mattered little that the only person in the audience for this first run was a 57-year-old wit oke, they gave it their best shot.

And it was good, actually really good.

Ask any journalist worth their salt what it’s like to bang your head against state bureaucracy every day when looking for official comment, and then look at the people being denied food daily by that same bureaucracy, and it becomes an altogether different story.

Our characters are initially forced by hunger to absorb the arrogant put downs and rondvok but as desperation sets in, rage begins to grow, especially when they see beyond the fence the cause of the queue: arrogant, corrupt officials and their business skelms.

You expect people in government’s rice queue, like Jili and Msani’s characters, to be worn down by it all.

But these “sistas” are not taking it lying down anymore (one of them literally). Although they are hustlers of a different ilk, the whore and the bargain hunter, they are thrown together and to survive they must find each other.

This they do through their stories.

And sjoe, these actors work that stark, empty stage with only a chair for a prop while plump bags of rice in the corners serve to pull our attention and focus onto the characters.

In a time of saccharine memorialising callously designed to wipe away the present catastrophes, Mda has pushed us to the front of the queue to gaze in mortification on what is going on.

And while the line is entirely meaninglessness and the “process” of waiting as vacuous as the original promise, it is high-energy work like this which breaks down the barriers.

And the Girls in their Sunday Dresses is on at the Cape Town Fringe until 3 October. Bookings and details here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *