Itsoseng | Chicago Shakespeare Theater | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
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Itsoseng

Itsoseng

When: Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through June 20 2010
Phone: 312-595-5600
Price: $28-$38
chicagoshakes.com
Hosting the World Cup is supposed to be a breakthrough for South Africa, an indication that its postapartheid culture and economy have arrived. But I'd call Itsoseng stronger proof that a change has come--paradoxically, because the piece so clearly demonstrates how far Mandela's children still have to go. Written and performed by 29-year-old South African actor Omphile Molusi, the painful, powerful 75-minute one-man show recounts events that took place in Molusi's own home township of Itsoseng starting in 1993, when Lucas Mangope, president of the Bophuthatswana bantustan (one of ten black "homelands" established under apartheid) refused to integrate it into the new South Africa. In the process of overthrowing Mangope, protesters looted and burned Itsoseng's only viable economic engine: a shopping mall. In Molusi's intimate telling, the people are at first confident that the Mandela government will reward their solidarity with a new mall. But as the years go by they get nothing but assurances from apparatchiks whose belches suggest the fine time they've been having at the public trough. Meanwhile, life gets profoundly ugly. Molusi charts Itsoseng's decline through the eyes of Mawilla, a young man who wants nothing more profound--or, in his desperately depressed environment, unattainable--than to love a certain girl he grew up with. Molusi's narrative is at once humorous, sweetly poetic, and horribly frank. And that unsuppressed frankness says more about South Africa's social health than any soccer match. --Tony Adler

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