Malindadzimu at Hampstead Theatre
Malindadzimu takes its audience on a journey from a quiet hospital room in Nottingham to a vast farmland in Zimbabwe, where mother and daughter attempt to untangle their knotted relationship in a world that feels both familiar and alien. Hope (Kudzai Mangombe) is 16, recovering from a suicide attempt, and quick to push her mother away one moment and pull her in the next. Faith (Shyko Amos) is stoic, a character who believes that packing up and abandoning their problems is a better resolution than actually listening to her daughter. In short, she believes that bringing her daughter home could be the answer to her struggles. While home previously meant Nottingham, she instead opts to return to Zimbabwe.
In what begins as a familiar story of parental discomfort and teenage angst, the narrative quickly moves to focus on ideas of heritage, displacement and belonging. The move was intended to chase away the shadows that plague Hope, but here they appear only stronger – and she begins to envision the figures of her ancestral past, who call upon her to finish their war. What follows is a tense and emotionally fraught exploration of cultural roots, spirituality, and how the future and the past are much more intertwined than one is led to believe.
Throughout, Kudzai Mangombe sparkles as Hope in her professional debut, bringing innocence and naivety to a character whose story is deeply conflicted. She is paired nicely with Skyko Amos as Faith, though the latter role often feels more like a parental placeholder than a character to really sink one’s teeth into. Light and comedy are dropped into the otherwise rather tense production by Natasha Williams in the role of Gogo, an elder who helps the family run the farm.
With a running time of around an hour and 40 minutes, the play sometimes feels overly long, though any issues with pacing are eradicated by the closure – an emotional and powerful scene carried out in part by a spirit medium (the phenomenal Tendai Humphrey Sitima), which brings Hope and Faith closer than they have ever been before. Directed by Monique Touko, Malindadzimu is a thought-provoking and poignant exploration of belonging.
Photos: Robert Day
Malindadzimu is at Hampstead Theatre from 23rd September until 30th October 2021. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the production here: