Review: Out of Africa Tarisai Vushe and Geoffrey Sykes at Seymour Centre

Review by Charlotte Leamon

Out of Africa is a story full of singing and story-telling as Tarisai Vushe describes what it was like moving from Zimbabwe to Australia at 14 years of age. The show was co-written by Geoffrey Sykes and includes Samuel Barrie who raps his journey and arrival as a refugee, as well as featuring pianist Jonathan Chaga.

Before Out of Africa, the first 35-minutes of the night featured Emilia Nwakpa who performed Afro contemporary dance whilst describing the importance of it in her heritage and culture of Nigeria. Her set called African Beauty features a variety of dances and a change of costume and hair which she describes can change her look and how people view her. Whilst wonderfully demonstrating a dynamic style of dance and utilising fun and energetic music, Emilia needed more direction in her script which could have been more linearly narrated.

In Out of Africa, we hear Tari’s talented voice and see her skills as a performer as demonstrated by her numerous roles such as Lion King, Madiba and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Jonathan and Tari work well together on the stage, and Barrie provides an extra element with his rap. As we hear Tari sing, sometimes Jonathan plays and other times a track is used. I would have preferred more live piano, but I did enjoy the interchangeable ways in which they chose piano versus tracks for certain pieces. Whilst Tari beautifully sings covers of songs such as Africa by Toto and Great Southern Land, she also sings traditional African songs and as such opened her act singing one. Her clear tone was pure and rich, and no song faulted her vocals.

The tapestry covering the back wall and the traditional headdresses and clothes that Emilia and Tari were wearing in their separate shows were colourful and vibrant. The friendly chatter between Samuel and Tari was casual and inviting for the audience, as they recounted their childhoods in Africa and how moving to Australia was for them. Tari was friendly and approachable in her narration, and she captivated the audience with her stories of acclimatising to Australian culture. Whilst adding comedic elements, Tari also describes the hardships and tribulations of moving countries and how it was hard to fit in at times. As well as this, Samuel and Tari connect over the discriminations faced in the arts and performing industry. Overall, the duality of hearing about Tari’s move and Samuel as a refugee, Out of Africa was a story full of dance and narration. The audience was dancing and laughing along with the performers and most were more than eager to join in on the final dance.

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