Mercy Madonna of Malawi is an upbeat, yet thought-provoking, musical based on Madonna’s recent adoption of a 4 year old Malawian girl, Mercy James. Billing itself as a “modern day African Annie” it gives a Malawian perspective on the adoption which has been much discussed and dissected in the international press.
International adoption, particularly by celebrities, is a controversial subject but the play is well-written and cleverly presents both sides of the argument during a court case scene. One team argue that Mercy will lose her African heritage if taken abroad, and that the life of a celebrity is no life for a child. They fear that this adoption could set a precedent which would lead to many more children being taken from their birth country. The others argue that there is nobody in Malawi who can afford to look after Mercy, and many other children like her, so why not allow a foreigner to adopt her and give her the education and opportunities which she could not get in the orphanage? The audience are also invited to contribute their opinions, both during the court scene and by casting a vote with their tickets as they leave.
It is a serious subject matter, but presented skilfully in a light hearted way. The show fuses upbeat traditional Malawian music and dance with some of Madonna’s biggest hits, reworded to narrate the story. Madonna herself is humorously played by one of the Malawian men in drag. The entire cast are talented singers who give an enthusiastic performance. The show is enjoyable to watch, and it leaves you thinking about the issues presented afterwards. Worth checking out!