Theatre review: The epic adventure of Nhamo the Manyika warrior and his sexy wife Chipo

©Richard Davenport 2013. London, Tricycle Theatre, The epic Adventure of Nhamo the Manyika Warrioir

©Richard Davenport 2013. London, Tricycle Theatre, The epic Adventure of Nhamo the Manyika Warrioir and his sexy wife Chipo. By Denton Chikura - Credit: Richard Davenport


Tricycle Theatre

Denton Chikura’s play has no message, no lions, no Oxfam, it is an entertaining, funny pantomime – mocking international politics well as creating fun out of aspects of African ways of life. In an inspired setting suggesting Tarzan-style jungle foliage with hanging ropes reflected in the shiny black floor, the action begins with an immense crash of thunder and Don Gilet enters as Narrator.

He is to concoct a brand new African fable with an all-star cast. He has his villain and his heroine but cannot find a suitably glamorous young man to be Nhamo, his hero, and has only 48 hours to make up the story. He sends up fervent prayers to the gods of storytelling, but gets no response.

Until that is, he hears a voice calling for a missing goat and a handsome young goat herder (Ery Nzaramba) appears naked apart from a grass skirt. The narrator recognises him at once, knows his name is Nhamo and that he eats pot noodles and tea for his supper. Nhamo believes this is witchcraft. He himself knows very little – he has never even heard of Wikipedia.

The other characters arrive – the beautiful but bad-tempered heroine Chipo (Tanya Fear), who is really annoyed that she has to work with the villain Specimen (Nyasha Hatendi), a giant man with well-oiled muscles in an exaggerated version of Nhamo’s simple dress plus a huge headdress. “I was up for Idi Amin in The Scottish King,” he says.

These two squabble their way through the story, which drops the occasional modern name to highly comic effect. Nelson Mandela, Robert Mugabe, Morgan Freeman, Harry Potter and even Boris Johnson all appear.

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This humorous and very talented group of people carry on their hilarious nonsense for about 80 minutes. Both writer Denton Chikura, who appeared recently at the Tricycle in The Arabian Nights, and director Lucian Msamati, National Theatre player, hail from Zimbabwe and are members of the Tiata Fahodzi, Theatre of the Emancipated.

Great fun.

Until August 17.