If you ever get the chance to see a performance by Two Gents Productions, grab that chance. I first came across these two actors performing Two Gentlemen of Verona at the North Wall. How do two men perform a whole Shakespeare play by themselves? Well, they do and they make it both touching and funny.
The actors are of Zimbabwean origin and Magetsi is a play about displacement, about living between two cultures. The starting point is a Zimbabwean who lives in London going back to Zimbabwe after the death of his father. He imagines a rapturous welcome from his family: instead he finds that his grandmother is bitter and angry; his boyhood friend and cousin, too, sees things in a different light. Some reconciliation, some understanding, is achieved by the end but it is a bitter sweet parting.
The story is essentially the story of the misunderstandings and revelations of the returning prodigal son, but through them a picture is painted of life for the average Zimbabwean today. Some people manage to make a mint out of the farcical dollar situation, but most just get by the best they can. For those of us in the audience who know a bit about African culture, the portrayals of the grandmother, the young Zimbabwean woman etc. – especially the voices! – were very accurate as well as funny; however, the audience was full of young students and they too roared with laughter. They, we all, gave them hearty applause at the end.
I see from the Two Gents website, that they have performed Two Gentlemen of Verona in Shona at the Globe this month and that they are also performing Magetsi and Hamlet around the country; I must try and find a way to see them on stage again.