Khanyi no match for Drama Queen

17 August 2012 - 02:52 By JACKIE MAY
Khanyi Mbau as Lebo Mathosa in 'Drama Queen' at the State Theatre in Pretoria Picture: VATHISWA RUSELO/GALLO IMAGES
Khanyi Mbau as Lebo Mathosa in 'Drama Queen' at the State Theatre in Pretoria Picture: VATHISWA RUSELO/GALLO IMAGES

If Lebo Mathosa were just a raunchy dancer with a fairly good voice, it would be okay to cast bling shopper and wannabe diva, Khanyi Mbau, as the award-winning Kwaito star.

But, it is not okay.

As one of five women playing the late singing sensation in the musical Drama Queen: Lebo Mathosa Show , Mbau's performance stands out, but not because of her singing talent .

While Lucia Gumede, Ayanda Nhlangothi, and Siziwe Ngema have one or two modest costume changes, Mbau appears on stage in a variety of expensive and striking outfits.

For one song, she wears a large black hat, a black sleeveless shirt with a very low and cleavage-revealing diamante-bordered neckline, tight shiny black pants and black stilettos.

But it is not simply Mbau who offends.

Director Sello Maake Ka-Ncube's show fails to capture all the textures of Mathosa's rich, dramatic and ultimately tragic life . It is a shallow tribute to an energetic artist whose memory deserves better.

Mathosa's former Boom Shaka bandmates - Junior Sokhela, Theo Nhlengethwa and Thembi Seete - were not impressed.

"This show is not about Lebo," Seete told the Sowetan.

"It is more about beautiful girls competing to be the best singers on stage, and Lebo was not about competing."

Instead of integrating music, dance, and dialogue into a dramatic and absorbing narrative, the audience listens to Boom Shaka and Lebo covers.

Between songs, narrator Rumi Chuene appears to tell the story of Mathosa's life in the first person. Even after the portrayal of Mathosa's fatal 2006 car accident - a strangely tacky scene which features Khanyi hanging from the ceiling singing Michael Jackson's song Gone Too Soon - Chuene appears on stage to continue with the first-person narration. Without any explanation, a dreadlocked man appears on stage at various intervals.

The choreography is messy and outdated.

The dancers are dressed in trashy costumes that one imagines were retrieved from deep within the State Theatre's wardrobe closet.

Nobody on stage playing Mathosa comes anywhere close to representing the energetic and sexy star who both shocked and intrigued South Africa.

One audience member said: "Lebo must be turning in her grave."

Life is short - in Mathosa's case tragically short - and it is certainly too short for this performance.

By 11pm, and after almost three hours, I had seen and heard enough and left before the show ended.

This production would be far more effective as club entertainment, where those who care can listen and dance to the music performed.

  • Drama Queen: Lebo Mathosa Show is on at the State Theatre until September 9. Book tickets at