Review: Hymns of a Sparrow (Brighton Fringe)

This powerful drama from MagentaPro, streaming at the Brighton Fringe, starts with a neighbourly dispute over cows, then evolves into a raw and visceral family tragedy.

Observed and told by a young boy, we watch an old man pass through the grieving process in this story full of the legends and beliefs of those in an African village.

Opening with song and speech in the story’s native language, it is still possible to follow what is going on before the narrator (played by Anele Sphamandla Nene, who is also rhe writer/director) introduces himself.

One man on a bare stage with minimal props is all we see, but his world is carefully created around him, while his physical movement brings the story and those within it to life. From the boy who sees the fun around him to the man whose world comes apart with his personal loss, we see and understand these people.

There is high drama in Hymns of a Sparrow, but also a lot of humour. These are real people, navigating their daily lives, across a 45 minute production. There is no language barrier as the story is clearly articulated through gestures and sharply delineated characters.

This is perhaps not a show for everyone, but if you are prepared to listen to the story of Mr Mngadi and the young boy Simlindlie, with everything that goes with it, you may also hear the healing hymn of the sparrow for yourself.

Fringe rating: ***

You can stream Hymns of a Sparrow at the Brighton Fringe until 27 June. Book your ticket (£5) here.

For more about MagentaPro, visit their Facebook.