It has been said of South African choreographer Robyn Orlin that she "doesn't tread softly around the sensitive issues, she wades into them and kicks their butts". Thankfully, her show We Must Eat our Lollipops With The Wrappers On lived up to its hype.
In this case the sensitive issues are those surrounding the HIV/Aids epidemic in Africa. Not, perhaps something you would immediately think of making a song and dance about, but Orlin does both to great effect.
The show combines storytelling, theatre, African dance and some stunning a capella singing with live video relay and projections. It is dynamically diverse, not just in its media, but also its tone and emotional breadth.
The show starts with the house lights still up and members of the cast scattered around the auditorium with their red buckets of lollipops.
It then suddenly zooms in on one lone voice from a singer curled up vulnerably in a seat, with the live video relay almost uncomfortably close in her face; and that sets the scene for the whole dynamic of the show: from group to individual, traditional to modern, beauty to menace, horror to humour, light to dark and dark to light.
Essentially, it tells the whole AIDS story; from the spread to society's attitudes towards victims to education (putting a condom on a banana!) to hope with a candid, and at times almost brutal honesty.
Orlin uses simple props such as buckets, shoes, powder or light bulbs often to striking visual effect, and in many ways it's a simple show. Not in a plain or unsophisticated way, but in a way that just adds to the clear, monolithic force of the message. It's also an important show.
The only slightly confusing thing was the decision to dress the whole cast as young girls - the men included.
According to the cast in the post-show talk, this was Orlin's way of giving young girls more of a voice than they usually have, but it was a bit too easy to misconstrue as suggesting that AIDS was a female issue and seemed to confuse a large part of the audience.
Nevertheless, it didn't stop much enthusiastic and heartfelt applause at the end of a powerful show.