wed 27/01/2021

South Africa

Zanele Muholi, Tate Modern review - photography as protest

Hail the Dark Lioness (Somnyama Ngonyama in Zulu) is a powerful celebration of black identity. These dramatic assertions of selfhood are more than just striking self portraits, though. South African artist Zanele Muholi uses the pronouns they and...

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Album: Charles Webster - Decision Time

Charles Webster is one of those connecting figures who make the idea of “the underground” seem quite convincing. Originally from the Peak District but coming of musical age in Nottingham, he was inspired by Chicago house and Detroit techno music...

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Reissue CDs Weekly: Dudu Phukwana and the "Spears"

Whether explicitly or indirectly, what’s written on a master tape box can tantalise. Revealing part of a picture creates a desire to want to know more. Take the example seen above. It’s for an album by South African alto saxist Dudu Pukwana. The...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Moffie

Characterised by jarring juxtapositions of intense, appalling violence and the serene beauty of South Africa, Oliver Hermanus’ fourth feature is the story of a young man coming to terms with his sexuality against the background of apartheid and...

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Moffie review - heart rates will rise with Oliver Hermanus’ powerful war film

Oliver Hermanus’ potent fourth feature Moffie certainly has a controversial film title. A homophobic slur, it can be translated from Afrikaans as "faggot". If you were to see buses with film posters emblazoned with the title in translation...

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Album: Shabaka & the Ancestors - We are Sent Here by History

Londoner Shabaka Hutchings's other main groups, The Comet Is Coming and Sons Of Kemet, are pretty modernist. They incorporate dub, post-rock, post punk and rhythm patterns that recall London pirate radio sounds into the playing of his ensembles,...

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Escape from Pretoria review - fun but facile prison-break drama

Based on the book by former political prisoner Tim Jenkin, Escape from Pretoria is an intermittently engaging jailbreak tale set in South Africa’s apartheid regime in the 1970s, as well as further evidence of Daniel Radcliffe’s determination to run...

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Kunene and the King, Ambassadors Theatre review - a Shakespearean voyage through the legacy of apartheid

John Kani’s Kunene and the King is history in microcosm. Its premiere at the RSC last year, in this co-production with Cape Town’s Fugard Theatre, coincided with the 25th anniversary of the end of apartheid, offering a chance to assess the momentous...

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Dada Masilo's Giselle, Sadler's Wells review - bold, brutal, unforgiving

The most arresting thing about Dada Masilo’s contemporary South African take on Giselle is Masilo herself. Tiny and boyishly slight, she inhabits her own fast, fidgety, tribal-inspired choreography with the intensity of someone in a trance. Costumed...

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'Master Harold' ... and the Boys, National Theatre review - timelessly moving

Time has been kind to Athol Fugard's "Master Harold"...and the Boys. It's a stealth bomb of a play that I saw in its world premiere production in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1982 and that has been a regular part of my playgoing life ever since. Yes,...

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CD: Africa Express - Egoli

Damon Albarn isn’t just a national treasure but an international one. He seems to spread his reach so widely, with a mix of curiosity and boundless energy, a great deal of discernment and a vision as different as possible from the narrow-minded...

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SS Mendi: Dancing the Death Drill, Isango Ensemble, Linbury Theatre - evocative and essential lyric theatre

While Bach's and Handel's Passions have been driving thousands to contemplate suffering, mortality and grace, this elegy for black lives lost over a century ago also chimes movingly with pre-Easter offerings. First seen in Southampton last year as a...

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