Stage Review: District Six, *Kanala – A trip down memory lane

Local is *lekker – and this David Kramer musical is no different. The famous Fugard Theatre set the scene for this important performance.


Image credit: Cape Town Magazine

Remembering yesteryear

The word ‘spectacular’ comes to mind, as audiences take a trip down memory lane with the captivating narrator (played by Andrea Frankson) visiting the bioscopes, shops and homes of the multicultural individuals who brought life to District Six all those years ago.

There’s not much of a storyline. This is a granddaughter reminiscing about her granny, Eveline Williams, in her heyday, while celebrating the place and the people that were. Bianca Le Grange first played this lead role, but by the time I saw the show, she had ‘left the building’.

Colourful characters

I ended up watching most of the play with a big grin on my face, all thanks to the vibrant characters. From the strict but funny choir conductor (played Loukmaan Adams), to lovable gangsters (as played by Carlo Daniels, for example) and of course the popular Eveline who loves to perform and starts a singing group with her two best friends.

District Six declared white

On 11 February 1966 the government declared District Six a whites-only area under the Group Areas Act – a decision that destroyed people’s homes along with their dignity. Only about 20% of the play focussed on this tragedy. Yet the music, striking newspaper headlines and poignant photos of destruction in the background really brought it to life. I get goose bumps just thinking about it.

Say it with song

For a music lover like myself, the play was absolute treat. The distinctive rhythm of new and familiar Capetonian tunes moved from the top of my head to the tips of my baby toes. All the characters are gifted with beautiful voices and were complemented by the live band with sexy saxophone vibes.

Bye for now

This local musical ended on 3 July. But don’t fret! The stars will return in November this year for more memorable, local, entertainment.

Fugard Ab Mem Tey

* lekker = an Afrikaans word meaning ‘nice’

* kanala = of Cape Malay origin meaning ‘please’. In this context the narrator asks her grandmother to tell her more about District Six – Kanala!


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