A Man Of Good Hope at the Young Vic
Alone on the stage, with the ghostly voices of the Isango Ensemble in the background, a young boy can hardly be heard: “I am alone. I have no one,” he croaks. Imagine how that would feel. This play, in its own way, voices fears that we, particularly at the present moment, attempt to blot out. It is a story for the “edification of others”, declared writer Jonny Steinberg, who based his novel on the turbulent life of a refugee, Asad Abdullahi. Often, people neglect to see those beneath the term refugee and, without lecturing, A Man of Good Hope reminds us that they are human whilst equally reflecting on instances where others’ lack of sympathy calls into question their own humanity.
The sense of having nothing to call your own is apparent throughout. There are few props; trucks, doors and houses are created imaginatively from disparate objects, reflecting the innovative quality of human resilience. The ensemble is made up of characters who vanish in and out of the protagonist’s life, at times to return and haunt his present with their song. “Come to America,” sings Asad’s cousin from the past, her vocals cutting through the theatre with their desperate hope.
The music adds to the richness and equally the horror of the tale; voices from the past return through song, haunting the character’s decisions. Shootings, uprisings, female genital mutilation are touched upon, but it is not all despondent. Light from the darkness shines in certain comic scenes, such as Asad’s attempts to win the hand of his wife and teach his cousin American – “today I forget, yesterday I forgot” – with the whole ensemble joining in. Asad is played by three actors who plot the trajectory of his life from a boy to a man, creatively depicting the organic process of his growth. Each performer brings different qualities to the role: Phielo Makitle is heartbreaking and effortlessly hilarious as the young boy, Luvo Tamba, who portrays Asad as a young man, brings a charisma and vitality to the role, while Ayanda Tikolo brings a gravitas to the older.
This is a play that is hopeful about man’s resilience and the inherent good in humanity. It is vibrant and immersive with a fantastic cast. It is a beautiful adaptation and at the end of the show there is a resounding sense of hope.
A Man of Good Hope is at the Young Vic from 6th October to 12th November 2016, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch the trailer for A Man of Good Hope here: