Review: The System from South African Tree Productions

When 3 prisoners from a South African prison escape, we have the opportunity to follow them through their dramatic lives and explore with them what it is to grow up, live, work (if you can find a job),  love, in South Africa –  and be caught in the legal system with 10-20 year sentences for crimes that you haven’t committed.   This could form the premise for a deeply painful political play, but instead it is offered to us as a beautifully crafted piece of physical theatre and storytelling, held lightly whilst still touching on deep pain, by 5 actors with African Tree Productions.   On a bare stage in the haunting archway space within Just The Tonic’s Big Room they weave 3 epic tales creating courtrooms, prisons, chases, love in the shower, and unwelcome boyfriends in a trunk.  You feel the open spaces they are released into, and the closing in of The System on their lives.

The piece is offered by a company new to Edinburgh at a challenging time for audiences – 10.30am in the morning. I learned about it at a Promoters Breakfast surrounded by people asking me to squeeze yet another show into a bursting schedule from 12-8pm when most of the drama is showing. I was delighted to have a quick breakfast in a relatively quiet Edinburgh morning and then get my first dose of theatre written by Kgosana Thekwana and directed by Alex Motswiri.

Well worth a visit – I give it a very happy 4* rating

Chris Grady

chris [at] chrisgrady [dot] org