What: The Deep North
When: Until 21 March
Where: The Lab
Jasmine (Pontsho Nthupi) lives in Port Augusta and is up for a scholarship at King’s College, one of the most prestigious schools in Adelaide. A very talented singer, for some reason she has been asked to sing a German song by some old dead guy as part of her audition. But is that being true to herself? At the same time, her brother, Ben (Tumelo Nthupi), and her paint-obsessed uncle Ebby (Stephen Tongun) are both struggling with his life in regional Australia. They sure are a long way from Uganda…
Developed through a series of workshops, the Deep North was developed in response to a desire to see more African faces on the stage. Partially based on the experiences of the cast and crew, it’s special to bear witness to the first musical of its kind, exploring the lives of African diaspora in Australia.
Pontsho Nthupi is a stand out. She has the most phenomenal voice and is effortlessly charming onstage in this role. She and Tumelo Nthupi have great chemistry with each other, but also with Stephen Tongun as their uncle. The music is backed by live guitar and keyboard by James Bannah Jr., and this creates an excellent layering effect. With the music produced by James, along with DyspOra and Pontsho herself, the soundtrack bounces between soukous, RnB, hi-life, Afrobeat, rap and blues. It’s catchy and very well produced.
The themes of family, heritage, and potential run are strong throughout the narrative. How do you exist in a place far away from home? And where is home, anyway? These questions are universal to any migrant story, but they find themselves at home in the current day with The Deep North.
3 1/2 out of 5 stars
— Natalie Carfora