National Arts Festival review: Wednesday Night

It was written by Ingrid Wylde and principally features four female friends whose lives revolve around Mbali, a woman who has come good since her marriage to a tenderpreneur. It is this female cosmos that Mandla, the tenderpreneur,  frequents.  Claire, one of Mbali’s friends, is an engineer who dies in a construction accident at a project involving one of Mandla's companies. One of Mbali's friends, a journalist, begins to investigate whether shoddy workmanship might have resulted in the death.

Part of the play’s beauty lies in its steering clear of the big narratives.
Instead, it concentrates its energies on the real consequences of the actions of the average person. In Wednesday Night, the personal intersects with the very personal (in a crisis in which the actions of your husband affect your best friend, whose side do you take: your husband’s or best friend’s?). How do you reconcile the fact that the lifestyle you enjoy is linked to the death of your friend?

Is Mandla responsible for Claire’s death and the subsequent unraveling that happens to his wife? There is a similar but different moral conundrum: a cop accepts a bribe from a drunk driver who then crashes into a pole a kilometre away, killing himself. Is the police officer responsible for the man’s death? What if he had issued a ticket that night; would that have stopped the man from getting himself killed the following weekend in yet another drunken excursion?

There is one problem with its plot: is it ethical for an investigative journalist to reveal the unpublished details of an investigation to the spouse of the person she is still investigating?

One feels the play could have soared and posed these moral difficulties with much more force. Still, it’s one subtle play that shows how the ordinary is slowly taking centre stage.

Percy Zvomuya

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