The President is in charge and that means me too,'' says Zimbabwe's former first lady Grace Mugabe'' to howls of laughter from the theatre audience.

''Everyone must rally behind me, the mother of the nation. I am the wife of the president.''

''Grace'' was on the stage of Harare's Theatre in the Park, brought to life by actress Carol Magenga in a recent three-day run of production called ''Operation Restore Regasi''.

The play, which chronicles the final days of former president  Robert Mugabe's rule, marked a watershed in Zimbabwe, where satirical productions that mocked Mugabe used to be ruthlessly suppressed.

It has been resounding hit with audiences starved for decades of incisive and topical humour - and so far, there gas been no official backlash.

Trevor Chisvo, a 26 year-old teacher, called the dialogue, a mix of English and Shona, ''hilarious''.

It is funny that we're enjoying events in our country that could have turned violent.'' he said. ''The guys did very well.''

The play was sold out extended to run for three further performances   

The production and its reception are a fry cry from the recent past when artists were intimidated by security forces if their work was deemed to insult Mugabe or his government.

In the early 1990s, play wright Denford Magora was forced into hiding after state security agents went to his home to confront him about his work, ''Dr. Government''.

The script portrayed the government as incompetent doctor asked asked to make way for a better-trained nurse in the effort to resuscitate a critically ill patient called Zimbabwe.''

The publishing continues.[Agencies]


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