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5 September, 2019

This story must be heard and show seen.

Seldom do I rise so quickly at the end of the show to give a standing ovation.

My expectations of SS Mendi were that it would be a tragic true story about the ship that sunk killing 616 volunteers in World War One.

These men, who saw themselves as warriors but were in fact destined to dig trenches for the British.

They were given shovels not guns.

They never made it to their destination.

How could any theatre company do this story and the men who died justice?

SS Mendi does so artistically through soulful song, comical and lovable characters, brilliant acting and a powerful message.

Moreover, the show highlights the discrimination and injustice these men suffered.

The white captain – played by a variety of the African performers, demonstrates the privilege and racism of the time. However, the wise reverend – a wise and voice of reason, reminds us to, ‘Not hate the man, but to hate the system that made him’.

As questioned in the show, ‘What is democracy in an apartheid state?’.

The injustices and prejudices of the past that still plague our society today are centre stage in this show.

I left the theatre feeling entertained, moved and educated about a story that more people should know about.

This is the ‘black Titanic’.

The audience laughed and cried.

The actors carried the audience with them and positioned us to appreciate this untold historical event.

As stated in the show, ‘this is our lamentation to bring the souls of those who died peace’.
I am grateful to have witnessed this tragic requiem softened only by the beautiful harmony of the African voices.

I give it five stars and would definitely recommend it.