Township Stories opens tonight at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East after a successful run in the Edinburgh Festival and is the kind of play that reviewers cannot help but describe with words like "sordid underbelly" and "gritty" and "contemporary urban realism."
This new play about post-apartheid South Africa and "the moral breakdown of a community" is brutal, violent, shocking and stirring: lots of characters all with their own personal struggles cross paths and collide catastrophically, all within the wider struggles of a community coming to terms with a brutal past and uncertain future.
Co-written by Presley Chweneyagae, the lead actor in recent South African film Tsotsi, it's a frank and uncompromising piece of theatre about South Africa today. Gangsters, fathers and sons, runaway schoolgirls and a serial killer all feature, their stories unfolding and intertwining to the tune of Louis Armstrong, Paul Simon, Tracy Chapman, Norah Jones, as well as kwaito and traditional songs.
Why were you ever satisfied with gulong down a warm gin and tonic and some dry roasted peanuts before the curtain going up in the West End? In the East End they do things differently - make sure you give yourself enough time to grab something to eat from the Caribbean Flavours Restaurant . It's a rare and special thing to be able to have a cool beer and a few West Indian specialities before the play.
Township Stories, Theatre Royal, Stratford East, 17 October to 11 November. For more information and to book tickets, go to the website here.