Theater Review: Sizwe Banziis Dead

The inimitable Peter Brook has revived renowned South African dramatist Athol Fugard's 1972 classic, a denunciation of apartheid, exposing the tribulations of black Africans under the evils of segregation and white domination.

By NAOMI DOUDAI
June 12, 2006 10:47

 
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Sizwe Banzi is Dead By Athol Fugard Theatre des Bouffes du Nord (France) Rebecca Crown, Israel Festival June 8 The inimitable Peter Brook has revived renowned South African dramatist Athol Fugard's 1972 classic, a denunciation of apartheid, exposing the tribulations of black Africans under the evils of segregation and white domination. Played today, Sizwe Banzi is Dead issues a strong socio-political message relating to oppressive regimes in many other parts of the world. A rambling, strangely structured piece originating from actors' improvisations, the piece conjures up deep moral and human quandaries alongside its portrayal of political injustice. Malis Habib Dembele opens with a long monologue in which he plays multiple roles and displays a dazzling range of emotions with electrifying movement, unfailing sincerity and an elegant ease. He is partnered by Pitcho Womba Konga, a giant, bearded Congolese, who carries the tragic tale of the dispossessed, doomed villager with a deep and touching passion. Their expressive portrayal, delivered in a sonorous French, is as lustrous as it is authentic.

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