Modern love story sensation echoes our past

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

The holidays are now over and it is back to business for most of us.

But this does not mean that we should not have fun or indulge ourselves in matters intellectual.

The Market Theatre is hosting a show that will usher you into matters of the intellect as you ponder how you would want to change your life for the better this year.

And this one will take you into the realm of love and the intricacies that come with this human phenomenon.

Following its fantastic success at three South African arts festivals and a tour of Holland, acclaimed US playwright Dael Orlandersmith's compelling love story, Yellowman, is currently playing at the Market Theatre.

Director Lara Bye's explosive two-hander is brought to life by David Johnson as Eugene (Gene) and Mwenya Kabwe as Alma.

Yellowman is a contemporary tragedy. Sons and fathers are locked in cycles of hatred, good daughters are banished, young lovers are doomed for no good reason and a community turns in on itself.

Writer Orlandersmith has created a work that is guaranteed to resonate with South African audiences. On the surface it is a love story, a coming-of-age story, but there is also the theme of internalised racism, where light-skinned men are called "yella" and perceived to have an easy life, and where black-skinned men, sweating in the South Carolina heat, are made to feel ugly and worthless.

Aside from the sharp critique of social issues and stereotypes, Yellowman also allows us to feel the heat of Carolina, smell the sweat in the Georgia Pacific lumberyard, taste the bourbon, feel the excitement of that first train ride to New York and savour the thrill of a fist kiss.

The play received the 2008 Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK) Best Production award while Kabwe won the Best Upcoming Professional Artist award.

Kabwe was also nominated in the Best Actress category at the same festival as well as at the Aardklop Festival in Potchefstroom.