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Karoo Moose – No Fathers review at Assembly George Square, Edinburgh – ‘beautifully nuanced storytelling’

The cast of Karoo Moose – No Fathers. Photo: Oscar O'Ryan The cast of Karoo Moose – No Fathers. Photo: Oscar O'Ryan
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The story as a concept lies at the heart of Karoo Moose – No Fathers, a deeply powerful tale set in rural South Africa. It is told with a fluid combination of song, dance and narrative storytelling by a six-strong ensemble from whose chorus, individual characters emerge.

There is no one narrator, but it is the story itself which rises up, taking control of events surrounding the escape of a Moose in a road traffic accident on its way to a zoo. Here is something that is colourful and vibrant – yet intrinsically dark as the village children build the moose up as a mythical beast, a child-eating monster from another place.

As the story unfolds, in the real life of the village, Chuma Sopotela is 15-year-old Thozama, whose wastrel father (Mfundo Tshazibane) has let village hardman Kola (Thami Mbongo) rape her to pay off a debt.

The ensemble takes on multiple roles, but Lara Foot’s direction ensures that there is always clarity and that events, however execrable, are always comprehensible.

The vibrant depiction of the moose by Mdu Kweyama allows the company to portray the dark knowledge of Thozama’s tale in all its complexity. Without pointing fingers, it shows where the blame lies and demonstrates that with sacrifice and understanding, oppression that can be defeated.

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Beautifully nuanced storytelling theatre allows dark events to be brought to light