Peter and the Wolf in Zimbabwe
Peter and the Wolf is one of those school music lesson stalwarts; you know just what you’re getting, unless that is, you watch Nick Young’s production where he has made a few additions and I’m not just talking about the title of Peter and the Wolf (and me) because you will also hear about Zimbabwe, a disused industrial site cum out-of-bounds playground and an alcoholic.
Nick had a turbulent childhood living in South Africa and Zimbabwe, not just because of apartheid and his mixed race heritage, but it seems his young life was littered with beatings, uncertainty and frustration and it is this that manifests itself in his production.
“At times I asked myself if I should even bother to do Peter…it was an exercise in frustration”
Having started work on this play five years ago, whilst the dark sinister side of the original story remains, he tells me his latest production is radically different,
“It’s still about a little boy who wants adventure and isn’t prepared for it but it’s also a leaner more effective piece of story-telling”
Omer Makessa is from Martinique and plays the musical accompaniment creating the contrasts of mood, and when the drunken father bullies his small son, for me it was the way Nick morphed into the towering threat of an angry dad then shrunk back into the small weaker boy that triggered my emotion.
His recreation of his old classroom cleverly portrays the conversation between his teacher and classmates where he tells them his version of the story of Peter and the Wolf and it is this dual story-telling of Nick’s autobiography where the parallels started to emerge.
Peter and the Wolf (and me) has certainly retained that dark and disturbing tale of the original, however I can’t help but wonder if this play was less about Peter and the Wolf and more about the demons from Nick’s past that he is trying to expunge from his otherwise exotic childhood.
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Thanks Sophia! Thanks to the cast and crew of the show!