Huffington Post ENTERTAINMENT
by Charlotte Skeoch
Umoja takes us on a historical journey from the earthy tribal dances of courtship and celebration, right through to the thumping rhythms of Kwaito, in joyous post-apartheid Africa. Linked together by an incomparably wise, gently chuckling narrator, the audience is guided through various milestones in South African history: gumboot dancing, bone-tingling gospel singing and chaotic Johannesburg shenanigans are but a few of the delights on offer.[blockquote align=”left”]Rich in authenticity, it offers a glimpse of African culture in a far more legitimate way than other African pretenders on the West End.[/blockquote]
The unadulterated joy spilling off the stage is utterly irresistible, which comes as a refreshing change to the norm of painted-on smiles and insincere performances that, more often than not, riddle the West End. The performers are rambunctious balls of unbounded energy and exultation, overflowing with glowing smiles and performances that just keep on giving. Their euphoria is utterly infectious: if you’re not smiling within the first 10 minutes, you can safely consider yourself dead inside. Perhaps it is our cultural stiffness that dissuades many performers or directors from going down this unashamedly convivial route, but it is not something frequently seen on London stages- all the more fool us for not regularly indulging in it, we’d probably be a much happier nation if we got a dose of intoxicating Umoja-esque merriment once a month.