Two women, one food queue and one unlikely friendship. Is this communist Russia? No, it is modern day Lesotho and the two scrubbers (one prostitute, one cleaner) wait, and wait, and... wait for the queue for rice to shorten. As they wait they share a little food and water, a chair and stories that reveal similar heartaches.
The sparse set and the tick tock sound of an official clock complete the scene as the Woman takes out her wool and crochets whilst the Lady sits and waits with some degree of impatience. The chair is put to great use to show this power play, but it is also there to represent the inertia of bureaucracy.
The energy between the two actors, Lesego Motsepe and Hlengiwe Lushaba, in this entertaining two-hander fizzes as they argue over the chair and sing an advert for face-lightening cream. Their continued banter over men, make-up and the price of rice endears them to the audience. The mix of Xhosa, Sotha and English used to express their plights adds to the humourous quality; it doesn’t matter what language you complain in, you are still not heard. Lushaba as the Lady struts around the stage, her persona larger than life and twice as sexy, scaring some of the male audience members in the front row, but we gradually get to see through the bravado. This guard is let down subtly and Lushaba keeps the audience onside throughout. Motsepe’s Woman at first seems mouse-like but grows in stature as the story unfolds in such a way as to make the Lady (and the audience) realise the truth about the reality of the political struggle. Her sharing gestures and practical advice are poignant, whilst her dancing and impersonation of the local woman who moved to Switzerland are sublime in their irony.
Serious issues but worthy or dull this show ain’t. It sparkles with womanly wit and warmth and captivates the audience with colourful truth-telling. Adapted by Zakes Mda from his novella and directed by award-winning Princess Mhlongo, this performance is as enchanting as a polished Lesotho diamond and will surely become one of this year’s Fringe precious gems.