Theatre Review: Anna & Christelle
Director: Ashwyn Mberi
Playwrights: Mel Mwevi and Ndali Mupopiwa
Cast: Mel Mwevi, Hazel Hinda
Skillfully directed by Ashwyn Mberi, Anna & Christelle weaves queer feminism and anti-racism together in a powerful piece of theatre. Set in present-day Windhoek, the play features Hazel Hinda as the single-mother, Anna and Mel Mwevi as the recently separated, Christelle.
Anna and Christelle, both architecture students, are brought together by their individual lack of intimacy. While their everyday experiences didn’t necessarily relate to each other, in a sense, the two women struggled in their personal romantic relationships, and through this, found solace with each other during their tutoring sessions.
I think it’s a really loving act, and the writers did their part to liberate stigma surrounding female bisexual relationship and the motherhood aspect relating to it.
The easy sense of affection and belonging between Anna and Christelle is kept subtle, as the women majorly focus on changing the worlds around them. This built-up of homoerotic tension got you thinking, rather than feeling.
The writing of Ndali Mupopiwa and Mwevi is incredibly confessional, with both women revealing some their frustrations, memories and experiences.
Anna who lives at her mother’s with her son has a fiery rage against the system, while Christelle, who recently got out of a heterosexual relationship agrees calmly to Anna’s rage, not stopping or contradicting her because perhaps she understands that she, herself, is part of the system. Hinda and Mwevi would silence the room with their deep conversations before the popular nature of the script brought sounds of approval from the audience.
Both Hinda and Mwevi had towering performances delivered with heart, energy boldness.
The set was designed in a minimalist manner, which was great, however, the only mishap in terms of the set was when the acting was happening at the front of the stage, the audience further back struggled to see them.
Of the feel-good moments during the show was the ending; it really felt good to walk out on Christelle’s estranged husband, Christof’s phone call.