Lunch is a puzzling piece of theatre. Presented by Sakhisizwe Edutainment Productions, it sits between engaging narrative and zany extravaganza, using a rather strong cocktail of theatrical performance, physical theatre and music to tell its story. Two council employees, working in their district's archaic toilet and sewerage system, decide to fight against positive modern change to that system on the basis that it will destroy their jobs, however awful they are. However, selfishness, cowardice and rashness cause issue with their strike.

It’s themes and messages are extremely engaging, but it feels like it has more to say than it is successfully able to.

The performance is brimming with so much energy that it is impossible not to be curious about what is going on on stage, while at the same time it is frustratingly difficult to figure out what on earth it is you are seeing. The cast break from dialogue into songs or chants frequently, and it isn't always clear why. These outbursts are often accompanied with physical set pieces, flips, trips and even at one point, a cast wide impression of a giraffe. It's fascinating to watch but also deeply confusing.

The clarity suffers largely at the hands of the performers: the bottom line is that we cannot really make out a good half of the total lines. They're lost in a unintelligible limbo, somewhere between accents, dialects and the sheer speed at which they're being delivered. The same energy that is such an important aspect of the show is part of its undoing. That's a terrible shame, because the performers are excellent to watch in other respects. Some of the scenes towards the end of the play, particularly where the young rebel stirs up other workers, are exciting and tense - because of the context it's quite easy to follow what is happening here, despite not always making out what is said. If only that were the case for the whole play.

Perhaps Lunch simply doesn't export well. It’s themes and messages are extremely engaging, but it feels like it has more to say than it is successfully able to. An early monologue about the life of a prostitute is delivered well and gives us information about a world that most of us know nothing about. The fact that we see the two workers are willing to fight for the jobs that earn them so much disrespect and loathing is a window into a desperate world where any work is good work. All this is in the play somewhere, but unfamiliar speech patterns and lightning fast delivery never let us truly take anything away but vague implications. 

Reviews by Andrew Forbes

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The Blurb

The misery of two men working for the municipality in a town that is still using the bucket toilet system. Their conversation is inspired by fear from the government’s initiative that they want to put an end to the system. The fear of not being able to provide for their families sends them to a protest that not all the systems are the same. The Bantu education system and other apartheid related systems were bad but this unpleasant one puts food on their table. Young ladies have to fend for their lunch and it gets worse.