Tonderai Munyevu’s one man performance of Mugabe, My Dad & Me premiered at York Theatre Royal this week. Adam Graver was there to experience the show.
Robert Mugabe is a figure I have heard much about, but I have never explored the history of the former President of Zimbabwe enough to know anything other than the headlines. Munyevu’s new show dives into a first-hand account of Mugabe and rather than being explosive politically or socially, it is a calm and honest reflection of how the President affected him and his family, with emphasis as the title suggests, on his father.
There is no doubt, that this 85 minute, one man show, is a true piece of theatre. Munyevu’s storytelling is world-class, blending the right amount of humour, drama and detail to make for a compelling watch. The addition of the Millie Chapanda playing the traditional Zimbabwean mbira, also adds to the experience in a beautiful way.
The show itself is based on one time when working behind a bar, Munyevu got asked “Where are you from?”. Upon telling the white man his native country was Zimbabwe, the man responded with his views, negative and strong, about the country. The show that Munyevu has written here, is his response to that interaction and what a response it is.
Munyevu says from the start that this isn’t a chronological account of events, rather a reflection of different periods of time told from different perspectives and he manages to seamlessly link event to event without it feeling disjointed at all. Whether jokes about Zimbabwean cows being called “Moogabe”, stories about the Spice Girls, or deep discussions around being a gay black Zimbabwean man, Munyevu’s delivery is a pleasure to watch.
The staging added to the show too with numerous outfits from the stories raised high above Munyevu and Chapanda. It was a nice way of bringing them to life; as he mentioned individuals I found myself looking up trying to find the related outfit, nice touch.
All in all a delightful evening – I haven’t given much away about the plot or story as I want you to discover that yourself, it’s a compelling tale and one that deserves to be heard though that’s for sure.