REVIEW: Shero, super Smanjie, attempts to save South Africa  

Loyiso Mkhize’s comic book Kwezi has been adapted into a play – with a stellar cast  

The Adventures of Super Smanjie sheds light on how rampant corruption can cripple a country’s economic prospects.  

The comedic play is an adaptation of Loyiso Mkhize’s comic book Kwezi, which was done by the Market Theatre Laboratory’s graduates. 

The show takes viewers through the life of a shero called Smanjie (played by Mathuto Mahlangu) who is gifted with superpowers at birth by her ancestors — but ends up misusing them to gain popularity on social media.  

She is told by her ancestors in a dream that she needs to save the city of Marapong from Muḓagasi, meaning electricity in Tshivenda. Muḓagasi is the city’s villain who has been stealing electricity cables to make himself stronger. To defeat him, she must first overcome her desire to use her powers to gain followers on social media for social approval. 

The production was composed and performed by Market Laboratory graduates: Rofhiwa Mundalamo, Mathuto Mahlangu, Slindokuhle Shabangu, Jack Moloi who is currently doing his postgraduate diploma in dramatic arts at Wits, and Wits fourth year theatre and performance student Zilungile Mbombo — whose illustrious performances provided a convincing mockery of the state of our country. 

The comedy’s simple set with just a chalk drawing backdrop of the city and and actors wearing plain colored t-shirts with leggings and sweatpants forced the viewer to focus entirely on the rawness of acting presented by the team.  

I was captivated by their exaggerated and mimetic use of body language to tell the story.  

Smanjie’s ancestors gifting her her powers at birth. Photo: Nonhlanhla Mathebula.

However, all the actors played more than one role in the play, which made it a bit difficult to follow on the development of each character. There was also not enough time in the play to memorise who played which roles exactly. Super Smanjie is the only exception, as she only played two roles. 

Although the play needs a certain level of familiarity with the South African social media landscape to understand some of the jokes, one can expect some serious comic relief that lightens up the mood on some of the issues affecting the country.  

Moloi told Wits Vuvuzela that it was hard producing the play themselves due to their busy schedules. However, the practical experience they received at Market Laboratory equipped them with valuable skills to finish the play.  

The show ran at Emakhaya Theatre on the 19th floor of Wits’ University Corner from May 26 to May 28, 2023. 

FEATURED IMAGE: The cast of The Adventures of Super Smanjie during their curtain call. Photo: Nonhlanhla Mathebula.

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