‘Reverential and festive’ tribute to a legend – Mandela The Musical

Unfortunately, it’s also pretty boring. The story of Nelson Mandela’s fight against apartheid in South Africa, his 27-year imprisonment, and his release and eventual triumph is told in a resoundingly conventional fashion, enlivened by Gregory Maqoma’s choreography if not by songs that are efficient without being memorable. .

The performances are superb, however, with Michael Luwoye’s Mandela and Danielle Fiamanya’s Winnie Mandela standouts.

Luwoye captures Mandela’s unique diction and preserves human dignity without sanctifying man.

Fiamanya is luckier as Winnie has a more dramatic arc; Resembling a Modigliani Madonna in her youth, she progresses to become the militant activist of her later years.

The conflict between her husband’s Gandhi-esque serenity and her own late-blooming militancy provides one of the few moments of real drama.

Good work, too, from Posi Morakinyo as Mandela’s tragic son Thembi, and Stewart Clarke as the prison warden who eventually sees the evils of apartheid.

My lasting memory is of the voices of the committed ensemble raised in a choral anthem, producing a sound that stirs the heart.

  • Mandela The Musical, The Young Vic until 4 February 2023, Tickets: 020 7922 2922

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