In the heart of South African apartheid, Magdaleen champions her treasured femininity far above her white race, seeking a sisterhood that will hold her together. Now, 81 and passing her last years in a retirement home, Magdaleen is to undo the seams of her identity as she sells her best friend, sister and confidante: the trusty sewing machine that had for so long threaded through every aspect of her life and hemmed in the fabric of her family.
The Sewing Machine is a one-woman masterpiece that has already completed more than 400 performances across South Africa, picking up countless awards along the way. Now, as part of collaboration between Wordsmith’s Theatre Factory and Assembly, The Sewing Machine has come to share its quietly powerfully story with Edinburgh.
A feat of a script that is stunningly performed by Sandra Prinsloo, The Sewing Machine has a simple grace that leaves you tingling. With an understated brilliance, Prinsloo immediately locks the audience into an expectant trance, weaving us through her life experiences forever bound to her beloved sewing machine. Voices from past and present family and friends also intersperse the memories of Magdaleen, ringing out painfully, comfortingly or nostalgically within our protagonist’s moving tale.
The Sewing Machine provides a very fresh exploration into the South African struggles, charging its well-known narrative with an investigation into family, love and being female. It is a story of and for mothers that exposes a poignantly honest experience where ‘your body is not your own’.
The Sewing Machine is the type of show that communicates with its audience in the most subtle of ways leaving you feeling surprisingly moved to have the privilege to be a confidante to this tale of startling love.
*****- 5/5 stars
The Sewing Machine is at Assembly George Square until August 27 at 14.40 as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. For more information and tickets, see the Fringe website.