Review: PATISSERIE FEMME's Deliciously Baked Feminism

Starring up-coming talent Liphelo Matthews and Nomfundo Selepe

By: Mar. 28, 2023
Review: PATISSERIE FEMME's Deliciously Baked Feminism

The discourse surrounding feminism looks different than it did a few years ago. This is of course natural and unavoidable, but with the recent backlash of the MeToo movement and the overturning of Roe v. Wade in the United States, one wonders where things might be going. And what better place to look than in the minds of young women? PATISSERIE FEMME, a recent production at The Drama Factory and Theatre Arts, offers exactly this.

PATISSERIE FEMME is a debut production by Three Pillars Productions, a production company manned by an all-woman team: Jessie Diepeveen, Thato Mosiuoa, and Sinezile Matutu. The show consists of skits centered around a bakery that produces women. The skits are connected through a meta-narrative throughline: the interactions of the head of the Bakery, Papa Patriarchy, and his underling (whose name is revealed at the very end of the production).

This wacky set-up allows for a lot of creativity in execution. No set or props are used, with the two female performers, Liphelo Matthews and Nomfundo Selepe, creating different worlds and characters using only their physical performance. This results in them also embodying the characters of inanimate objects, which create some of the best comedic moments of the show. Matthews and Selepe's performances are very impressive, and the script's material allows them to show-off their range. Dabbling in different accents, physicalities, objects, and characters; it is clear that both are performers with a lot of talent and skill.

Some of the production's stand-out moments are its movement pieces, which explore the production's thematic concerns in an abstract manner. These sequences are choreographed with delicate precision, but underlined with a captivating boldness. It needs to be noted that grounding the embodiment of different pastries and their creation is quite an achievement!

Written by Jessie Diepeveen, the text is layered like a well-crafted pastry. The core metaphor of the play branches out into different directions, and the skits are original and thought-provoking. I also believe there is a lot of potential in the production's metanarrative. By fleshing out this throughline and the dynamics it creates, it will also ground some of the show's zanier moments.

Ultimately, the play does not declare any set didactic thesis statement. Instead, it creatively explores the experience of being a woman in a system still in patriarchal shackles. It allows for abstraction and meditation on complex topics, while still delivering said topics in an entertaining and accessible way. It is the kind of production I believe should be essential viewing for older high school students, and is a good antidote to the way feminist discourse tends to unravel during online discourse. Three Pillars Productions has confirmed that they plan to take this production further, and I hope it returns to the stage soon.

Photograph: Thato Mosiuoa


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From This Author - Klara van Rooyen

Klara is a Cape Town-based creative with a life-long interest in theatre and literature. In 2021, she completed her BA Honours degree in Drama & Theatre Studies at Stellenbosch University, special... (read more about this author)


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