John came away from the Nuffield City Centre Theatre, Southampton, completely mesmerised by their brilliant world premiere stage production of SS Mendi:Dancing The Death Drill, which runs until Saturday July 14. It’s performed by the Cape Town-based Isango Ensemble with British TV and stage actor Jack Ellis (pictured). The sinking of the SS Mendi, 11 miles south of St Catherine’s Point, Niton, Isle of Wight, with the loss of around 600 South Africans, in February 1917, is such an amazing story and not too many are aware of it.
John has this to say about the show: “It’s one of the best productions I have seen for many years. It’s quite superb and the 14-strong company are just sensational. Don’t expect a night of laughs. There are some lighter and exhilarating moments but it’s such a tragic story. It’s hard to take in that the black South Africans had so much abuse to contend with. It runs for 90 minutes, without an interval, and grips your attention from the very beginning. There are moments of high drama, fantastic solo singing and harmonies to bring tears to your eyes. The performers live every minute to make this a show that still lingers in your thoughts many hours after seeing it.”