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Edinburgh Fringe 2023

Rites of Passage

FlightMode Productions

Genre: New Writing, Storytelling, Theatre

Venue: theSpace @ Symposium Hall


Low Down

A new play about family and identity transporting you into isiXhosa and French cultures.


Luntu Masiza and Olivier Van Den Hende tell their stories about growing up to adulthood in this new play about their different experiences. Written and performed by Masiza and Van Den Hende and directed by Clare Stopford, their stories are separate at first but as their friendship develops they interact more, which really meshes the stories together into a wonderful shared experience with the audience.

Lunto grew up in South Africa and speaks in english but also with words and distinctive isiXhosa sounds – Olivier grew up in France and explains that he speaks in both french and english throughout the play and we will understand what’s happening. The sound of these different languages is fascinating and transports us into different places, countries, even.

They both have stories about cars, which are vibrant when they stand and their eyes light up with the sound they make of the engines! They also have stories about parents. Parents do and say things to their children for the best, based on their own parents and life experiences. However, sometimes parents are silent about the reasons they say things, and a young person may feel confused, at the time.

Luntu tells us – and shows us – with physical clear gestures how he learned to milk a cow when very young “fresh milk for breakfast, innit” he says matter of factly – and then Olivier shares a story about spear fishing with his father and shows us the physical action while he swims. It is more clear now that each grew up in contrasting cultures and families of different means.

Lunto shares poignant stories about being teased and bullied as a boy and when moving from South Africa with his mother to the UK. Schools are different in these two countries as Luntu and his mother discovered. Olivier tells us about his father’s ambitions for him, which resonate with him to this day.

Luntu and Olivier listen to each other’s stories intently and so do we. Although they both come from different places they also share the challenges of many people growing up through adolescence. Wearing black t-shirts and jeans, they are both at ease on the stage and eager to enact their stories  about seeking  identity and acceptance to us in the audience and to each other. They are also very effective at telling their stories physically. The use of two chairs on the small stage works well, and when they need more space for their bigger actions the space could benefit from moving the chairs to showcase their expansive movement for some of the play.

This is a fascinating play from two compelling performers that is moving, and relatable.