zambezi-express-3-550.jpgZambezi Express looks certain to be a huge theatrical hit when it goes on tour later this year. The story is a captivating drama about a youth from a township in Bulawayo, whose dreams of becoming a world-class footballer takes him to South Africa, the tough big city and, eventually, success. The material is presented through song and dance and a smattering of usually broadly delivered dialogue.

 

Cleopatra Mugadza who plays the protagonists girlfriend in the play told ZBC news that the play is a ‘launchpad for the rest of the group in an environment where artists are considered to be uneducated’

Thuba Gumede the a choreographer told ZBC News that the story is about the victory will power and tenacity .

 

“The play is a breathtaking tale about a young man from Bulawayo who is out to make a name as a soccer player”, he said 

As the boy Mzilikazi, the protagonist battles against the dangers of the big city seeking to carve out a future as a football star, he also becomes embroiled in a desperate ancestral fight. The first act is a loose-knit string of pumped-up dance routines, from gumboot demonstrations to township celebrations that wins the distinction of mixing traditional steps with the modern shake-a-leg jive.

 

While the show looks at the struggles of a young footballer, in sometimes a humorous way, there is an underlying serious message of the daily struggles of the ordinary people in Zimbabwe. The ‘Zambezi Express’ (a train) is made the central focus of these struggles and succeeds in portraying a life of struggle, hopes and dreams.

 

‘The overriding theme of the play is that people should defy odds to achieve desired goals’, said Benhilda Ngwenya who plays Sicelo’s girlfriend.

 

Perhaps what catches the attention of the enthralled audience is the sheer energy of the show, which reverberates throughout the theatre hall. The scene in which a wheelbarrow full of billions of Zimbabwean dollars are presented to Mzilikazi as his winnings in a contest sums the desperation of the Zimbabwean people during the harsh economic environment.
 
The play is a collaboration between the producer Gerry Cottle, a veteran circus entrepreneur, and a 20-year-old Zimbabwean theatre company called Siyaya (On the Move). It was developed in Wookey Hole, the Somerset tourist attraction now owned by Cottle near Wells in England.