With strongly adult material from the opening scene, this new South African play sets the stark reality of contemporary township life in the format of a conventional police man-hunt for a serial killer. But while the resulting structure might be familiar to a Hollywood scriptwriter, its moral framework would not.
Mandla Gaduka and Boitumelo Shisana are Molomo and Rocks, the bickering policemen who believe they have stumbled on a serial killer. He lures his victims to a lonely piece of bush, chases them around like a cat toying with a mouse, then rapes and strangles them with their own G-string. The audience know it is true - they have seen Kedibone Tholo as S'bongile succumbing in the opening scene. Although, in a superbly created and disturbing piece of theatre, it is just her and her reactions they have seen, not the killer himself.
Never afraid to mix cinematic conventions such as freeze frame, voice-over and flash-back with those available only to live theatre, the sixteen-strong ensemble-cast drive and thrust the plot along. Against the backdrop of the police hunt, they create a welter of characters. Matlakala, the fifteen year-old who runs away from home to live with her hoodlum boyfriend, Dario, who Rocks is certain is the G-String Killer. Thabo, Rocks' son, who falls in love with Thuli, daughter of Mamika who runs the local shabeen. Dan, Matlakala's drunken father who frequents the same shabeen.
Yet instead of creating a confusing chaos of characters, the strongly physical performances from all concerned ensure that all the different, interlocking pieces of the story are revealed with clarity. It is vivacious, thunderous stuff, too, in which acts of violence or love are underpinned with a vibrant, often ironic, soundtrack. And while this is a multi-language performance – it’s worth buying the script to read afterwards - the use of language is often not so important for what is being said, but the manner in which it is said.
This is exciting, visceral theatre, but which is set within a moral framework that reflects, all too vividly, the stark reality of life in South Africa today.