THEATRE: Hope Beyond the Wall - BAC, SW11

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The Independent Culture
Indres Naidoo spent 10 years imprisoned on South Africa's Robben Island for crimes against Apartheid. He was forced to piss against the wall of his own cell, to wear blood-stained clothes, to follow a punishing, agonising regime of manual labour. And those were the good times. The bad, month upon month of them, were spent in solitary confinement.

This is his story - as adapted by Ajaykumar and Roy Leighton to mark the 80th anniversary of the ANC - and you might think it would be too gruelling for words. But Naidoo has found them, and their quirky fastidiousness offer a humorous commentary, a redeeming slant, on this life of hell.

The horror with which he discovers an absence of toilet paper] The disgust with which he describes 'what they describe as coffee'] They make you smile, these asides - not just for their polite inadequacy, but because their refinement reflects a larger rebellion of self-possession, a refusal to lie down before iniquity and injustice - on any level.

Ajaykumar's performance as Naidoo is stirring, but ragged - a little too casual at times - but the music, garnered from a collection of pipes, metal sheets and hub-cap drums, is mesmerising. And the singing of Amadou Saho - a voice of string and anguish - is worth the trip alone.

To 13 Sept. Box office: 071-223 2223

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