Tuesday, July 5

MNQUMA – Brighton Fringe

Xolisile Bongwana’s MNQUMA tells the story of a man on a quest to reconnect with his roots and reclaim the legacy of his ancestors whilst discovering his own identity. We see Bongwana express his thoughts and feelings on this journey through the traditional dance forms of Xhosa and Bhaca.

With music compositions by Bongwana himself alongside Elvis Sibeko and No-Finish Dywili, the songs felt personal, Bongwana’s voice blending seamlessly with every note from start to finish.

Bongwana delivers an emotional performance, his inner conflict is palpable in his dancing and singing as he struggles to battle with himself. He gives an especially stellar performance as he undergoes his transformation from boy to man, seemingly experiencing a lot of challenges on the way.

The set has been kept simple, a minimal light shined on Bongwana as he danced across the stage, so the focus stays entirely on his movements and expressions. With just Bongwana’s form illuminated by a soft yellow light, the stage felt stripped back and intimate.

Despite the language barrier, Bongwana was extremely captivating in his dancing throughout, using dance to explore his character’s struggles and realisations. Choreographed with the help of David April, his movements were fluid and really set the tone without the need for many words. Although he was the only one on stage throughout the performance, Bongwana did a brilliant job of commanding the room with his high energy and sheer talent, his passion for dance was clear with every step he takes.

At just over 40 minutes long, MNQUMA was short yet powerful, the sort of production that delivers just the right amount of emotional vulnerability.

MNQUMA is available to watch on the Brighton Fringe website now and tickets can be purchased here. https://www.brightonfringe.org/whats-on/mnquma-152664/  

Reviewed by: Gemma Prince

Reviewed:  5th June 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★