The costumes were all very well picked out to suit the different characters. Lucy’s outfit was very modern and stylish with colourful patterns and high heels which suited her quite proud character. Her outfit was also quite tight fitting and provocative. Mac wore a suit which showed his superiority in his gang. The gangs costumes also helped separate their different characters-e.g. Snape wore a black suit with shades, which indicated that he was the cool guy in the gang and another member wore torn jeans and covered his face showing that he was the tough guy- the real gangster amongst the others.
The lighting didn’t change very much throughout the play- it was a bright flood across the stage and it was switched off only at the end of each scene. The transitions, in my opinion were not very well thought out and too slow which made the play drag. The use of props and furniture was somewhat conservative, where the same furniture on-stage was used for various different tasks and purposes-for example the door frames and chairs acted as part of Mr Phiri’s office and as the prison cell where Mac was held captive.
I think that this was an area that could have been worked on as it didn’t help in giving any effect to the play- I feel that the lights could have been dimmed at certain points, perhaps in the transitions, and also that they could have been focused on the areas on stage where the action was taking place, so that it could be easier for the audience to concentrate on that particular area. A good part where the lighting could have been focused on one area was in the beginning where Mr Phiri was talking to the audience- I think it would have been better if the lighting was focused on him while he was speaking, rather than the rest of the stage.
The music used was very modern and energetic and really helped to lift the performance. The music was quite lively and fast. One noticeable beat was at the start of the performance where there was an upbeat song with energetic dance moves as all the actors flooded on stage, which made it entertaining to watch. Another part where the music was very effective in engaging the audience was the duologue where Polly was fighting with Lucy (one of Mac’s other girlfriends).
Here the music was very fast again and the singing brought out the different characteristics of the women as Polly’s voice was jazzy in style and controlled in contrast to Lucy who had a rougher, more modern voice and style of dance. At parts singers were stood singing backstage or during the transition changes which added a different effect to the play and made it more interesting to follow. However not all of the music was relevant to the scenes which I think could have been thought out more clearly and the lyrics were also hard to listen to at times.
Overall, I feel that “Makwacha Hip Hopera” was a satisfactory play. I think that it needed some development in certain areas, especially in the scene transitions which I thought needed speeding up. Also at times the actors were blocking the projector and it was very clear that the light irritated them. One last point is that the music didn’t always start and stop at the right time as in one case the music stopped before the actors had finished their dance but they managed to cover it up and continued dancing. Moreover I felt that the songs placement was poorly thought out- as was their length and this seemed to bore the audience.
However I do have some good opinions of the play- I thought that it was a very enjoyable piece especially as it was based in Malawi and I thought the local references were very clear and amusing. I remember some references being made about how Escom has “blackout all day everyday” instead, (which was delivered on posters) of their original slogan-“Escom, power all day everyday” and how they were mocking the fact that the country didn’t have petrol or diesel, which are daily issues in our lives expressed in a different , humorous way. All in all with a bit of improvement in the areas mentioned and more practice, I think that this could definitely be a play worth watching.