Tapestry of Strength

Lekker. It’s a superb word, South African slang for “great” or “nice”. And when five South African boys are presenting 45 minutes of performance pieces largely from Shakespeare and Dylan Thomas, it is great to hear them say “lekke” at least once because it reveals that they are doing it in a truly South African style. And they really are. Five young Springboks showing us just how young actors should perform, with stage presence, honesty and charm.

If you want to see how young people should stage a piece of theatre, this is it

We are presented with five South African 18 year olds from Diocesan College (aka Bishops) in Cape Town, a private all-boys school well known for its rugby, cricket and music. Not to put too fine a point on it, the five of them look like the second and back row of the rugby team, all well over six foot, with cauliflower ears and a good build for scrummaging. And they do all indeed play rugby for the “Wild Boys”, the School’s infamous 4th team. At one point, hilariously, they pack down as a front row. But believe me, these boys also know how to act.

The group are here to explore what it means to be a young male South African in the 21st century, navigating masculinity and strength while exploring identity, acceptance and belonging. They do so through a succession of monologues and duologues from their Metric exams, with some well selected text to speak, often from Shakespeare. What shrewdly chosen lines experienced drama teacher Wayne Tucker has given them. Is there any better advice than “Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line”? And more people should be told “you are a dweezil”. Some lines are jaw dropping (“what the hell does a black man know about flying a kite”) and others moving (strapping 18 year old says “I was here for some insulin”). The highlight is a piece by South African playwright Paul Slapolepszy called “Boo to the Moon”, where a young man seeks excuses not to join the army and fight. The texts explore every possible facet of young masculinity.

And now to the cast. All five actors are crackerjack. Lance Brilus shows terrific physical control as he moves in to touch the ‘man-fish’ of Shakespeare’s Tempest amidst a well delivered speech. James Du Preez impresses in his cheeky goblet change and monologue. Thomas Mason engages us well in his analysis of a useless afternoon. And Thomas Barton is a highly accomplished young actor, thoughtful, interesting and honest. But the Oscar perhaps goes to Murrough Epstein, whose performance throughout explores an emerging sexuality with deftness and courage. Every contribution is electric, from ‘Untouched’ to ‘Car crash’ to his Puckish finish. There is surely another facet to growing up as a young South African male explored in his performance that could be too easily brushed aside for other foci. The five work well as a group too, knowing when to step forward and when to keep quiet and still. The ‘off-camera’ poses are sometimes casual and cool but the best ones are totally ridiculous (the hand-stand, for example) since the performers always carry them off with complete commitment and no pretention, the most refreshing feature of everything they do. It is an approach to performance that is honest and true to their age and background. The talk sounds natural but you hear every word. The costumes are spot on too. All the shoes are the same but the rest of their costumes express individuality, one with baggy black trousers and another with ripped jeans.

If you want to see how young people should stage a piece of theatre, this is it. These performers are really, really lekker.

Visit Show Website

Reviews by Ben Ludlow

Pleasance Courtyard

The Land of Lost Content

★★
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

The Roaring of the Voices

★★★★★
theSpace @ Symposium Hall

Late Bloomers' Tales: Chasing Time Through Songs

★★★★
Pleasance Dome

Blodlina: The Viking Musical

★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Bishops (Diocesan College) returns to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe after a hiatus of six years. Hailing from Cape Town, South Africa, and taking their inspiration from plays that they have studied and performances that they have given through their high school drama journey, four members of the College’s final year Dramatic Arts class explore themes of identity, acceptance and belonging as they navigate the minefield that is masculinity and strength in 2022. This coming-of-age piece weaves together an assortment of South African and other well-known monologues, dialogues and poetry.

Most Popular See More

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Dear Evan Hansen

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

SIX

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Come From Away

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets