Page last updated at 12:36 GMT, Thursday, 6 August 2009 13:36 UK

Madonna adoption saga on Fringe

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Madonna adoption saga musical

A musical about pop star Madonna's attempts to adopt a young African girl is being performed at the Edinburgh Fringe by a Malawian cast.

The 50-year-old star is portrayed in the play Mercy Madonna of Malawi by a black male actor in a blonde wig

One of the performers, Shombi Banda, 29, claims he was heckled by the star when he performed for her in Malawi.

He said she responded to a play about the African cultural identity by saying "money is the answer to everything."

The show looks at how Madonna was given ­custody of four-year-old Mercy James.

It also attempts to depict how people in the African country viewed the case.

Madonna first spotted Mercy in an orphanage when she visited the African state in 2006.

After a long-running court battle, the nation's highest court ruled earlier this year that the star could adopt the youngster on a permanent basis.

Madonna interrupted and said: 'You know money is the answer to everything'
Shombi Banda

While Madonna has come in for criticism in the Western press for using her wealth and influence to "buy" children, it has opened up a huge debate in the southern African country, with some feeling the youngster will have a better standard of life overseas.

Shombi Banda said he had performed for Madonna in Lilongwe earlier this year.

He said: "It was a very nice performance with the show talking about someone who went abroad for 20 years and then when he came back he was complaining life abroad was very tough and how he had lost his culture and his identity.

"Madonna interrupted and said: 'You know money is the answer to everything'."

Toby Gough, who created and directed the show, which is playing at St George's West in Edinburgh from 7 to 31 August, claimed Mr Banda was also sacked for revealing a few details about Madonna.

Mercy Madonna Of Malawi cast
The show runs between 7-31 August

He told BBC Scotland: "Because he revealed a few secrets about Madonna's time in Malawi, just simple things like how many security guards she had, the fact she was heckling him during his performance, he was subsequently sacked because the owner felt he was putting his business in danger."

The play, which is already a hit in its home country, fuses traditional Malawian dance with western pop music as it weighs up the rights and wrongs of a contentious story.

Without taking sides, it asks whether it is right for a child to be taken away from her culture if it means enjoying a life of privilege.

Robert Magasa, dons a blonde wig and white face paint to play Madonna in the show.

HAVE YOUR SAY
The theatre is amazing and there is nothing like the feeling you get when the curtain goes up at the start
Idle Eric, Portsmouth,

The show describes itself as "knockabout" and "irreverent".

Mr Gough said: "Scotland has a great friendship with Malawi and the big story this year was Madonna adopting Mercy, so it's a perfect Festival show.

"It's outrageous, irreverent, it's full of music.

"We rewrite some of Madonna's songs to tell the story of how she ended up in Malawi, the problems she faced being stopped in the process and what Malawian's feel about it.

"It is due to poverty that they are forced to put their children in to orphanages. There are ways for children to be cared for in their own countries, not taken to other cultures."



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