NY Review: 'Tin Bucket Drum'
The Imbewu Trust and Horse Trade Theater Group at the Kraine Theater
Reviewed by Jonathan Mandell
July 31, 2012
Using a startlingly expressive face, Mpume Mthombeni portrays a town full of characters, helped along with the donning or discarding of a scarf or a hat and director Karen Logan's savvy use of lighting and props. Mthombeni is the narrator; the defiant "little drummer girl," whose name is Nomvula; Nomvula's helpless mother, Nandi; a sympathetic old man whose drumming hands were broken by the police years ago; a doctor who tries to "cure" Nomvula; an unsympathetic headmistress; envious classmates; disapproving townspeople; and the dictator himself, known as the Censor, who can be as smooth as he is vicious. But her characters are not delivering monologues. What distinguishes "Tin Bucket Drum" is the dialogue that Mthombeni has with percussionist Wake Mahlobo, whose varied drum playing off to the side of the small stage is a crucial element. It is as if it's all the same story: The beat of Mahlobo's drums, like the beat of Nomvula's heart, cannot be dismissed.
Presented by Horse Trade Theater Group at the Kraine Theater, 85 E. Fourth St., NYC. July 27–Aug. 4. Mon.–Sun., 7:30 p.m. (212) 868-4444 or www.smarttix.com.
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