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Tears and Laughter

2008-07-07 15:56
Cokey Falkow's Odd One Out
Directed by Rob Van Vuuren
Cokey's gone - since his first appearances onstage maybe nine years ago - from the guy with tons of talent who did gross-out stuff about doing girls up the ass and poo and so on and on, to the guy who finds the delicious twist in every twisted routine. Odd One Out keeps you laughing constantly because it's about humanity's many terrible flaws. The audience still naively finds Cokey shocking at times, but despite occasional gasps it sounded like they were laughing because they were listening. Not all Cokey's fans will be nuts about the somewhat camp self-deprecation he uses to remain unthreatening enough for the less err... "thinking" punters to stay with him, and for the more politically oversensitive to forgive his satire of South African archetypes. This is one of the many new tactics he employs to make this show more than just straight stand-up - although it still feels personal, and true. For anyone still considering the basic insanity of loving and trusting another homosapien, coming to terms with this kind of comedy could be a starting point. And forget that pompous crap already - Odd Man Out is prime entertainment. It's hilarious, touching and convincing, and only occasionally revolting. Like many of the best people, really. Don't miss it.
- Jean Barker

The African
Written and directed by Saeloelo Maredi
This quaint drama won't dazzle you with an elaborate set or dramatic costumes. At a glance it doesn't look like much. But it's not about what you see; it's about the message. It offers a perspective on our confused African identities, our constant battle between the sugar-coated concept of modernity and the abandoned foundations of tradition. Offering a definition of the ambiguous word "African", and attempts to guide us forward. While it could have been shorter, it could not have hit harder.
- Natalie Sineke

It's A Hard Life When You Have a Vagina
Written and directed by Shona Johnson
The cast try their best to sell their characters to the audience, but with over-the-top facial expressions, messy dance routines and badly-timed dialogue, they've mucked it up so badly I'll never watch another student production ever again. Read the full Vagina review here. - Megan Kakora

Bantu Ghost - a stream of (black) unconsciousness
Directed by Bobby Rodwell
This production, in which the speaker's words are illustrated with dance and movement, is not for the light hearted or air headed. Its message come with power, wisdom and insight from hailed black thinkers such as Biko, Cesaire, Fanon and Gwala (among others). It strikes you in the heart, and speaks such truth about the state of black consciousness that it becomes difficult to take it all in. That is its only flaw. It's a production that should be seen more than once to be truly understood, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Bantu Ghost will enlighten you, but it can't be taken lightly.
- Natalie Sineke

Director: Rob Van Vuuren
A flop of a comedy, Mark Elderkin pulls out every cliché in the book and regurgitates them while incessantly tucking his hair behind his ear and slurping water down after every painful attempt at humour. The show is weak and the best part was is final bow. Recommended for anyone looking for a warm place to nap, and don't worry - the "Swazi" will put you to sleep.
- Natalie Sineke

Pictures of You
This everyday-sad story of a the terrible things that can lie beneath the surface of a seemingly perfect marriage is explored with beautiful light and movement, figures, shadow and sound, and without words. Not great date material - unless you take a hyper-realistic, long term view of love and relationships. But really brilliant.
- Natalie Sineke

Bafana Republic - Extra Time
Directed by Mike Van Graan
If you're wondering why Bafana Republic was such a hit at the festival and around SA for so many years running, Extra Time isn't the way to find out what lay behind its popularity. Apart from a few fairly amusing patriotic scenes that sound more like recycled columns than anything else, it's really just dated witticisms and clichéd comebacks that already went through the (always more cutting edge) standup comedy circuit years ago, and came out the other side. Actor Rea Rangaka is adept at changing costumes, but his character performances seemed a bit over the top, even by theatrical standards. The preachy tone of the play's serious bits might rock the kind of audiences that laugh every time an actor fakes a black accent, but it's as tired as a Kurt Cobain T-Shirt. According to hearsay the original show was better - so perhaps best to preserve your good memories. If you're looking for solid laughs in a similar vein, try Best of Mamba instead.

Best of Mamba
John Van de Ruit and cast
Ben Voss and James Cunningham make comedy magic together, unashamedly indulging in silly puns and whipping out the occasional MOR hack rainbow nation yuk yuk for a second tour. But they get away with the cheesy moments,and the political insensitivity (equal opportunity stereotyping is still stereotyping, so don't give me that). You'll even forgive them the odd really juvenile satirical sketch, simply because they've got the timing and chemistry to pull it off. These guys know the big secret of writing and delivering a killer comedy review: they know how to build laughs on laughs until the crowd is helpless in their hands, riding their waves. The troupe of schoolboys in the front three rows were flying out of their seats at all angles, completely hysterical, within 20 minutes, and they didn't stop bouncing until the gravely comical twist in the tale – a twist that's both very brave, and refreshingly tasteless. See it - it's much funnier than De Ruit's books. DRAMA / PHYSICAL THEATRE
Remembering You Like Something I'd Forgotten
Louise Buchler
How do you feel about your memories? Like you, the seven characters of Remembering You Like Something I'd Forgotten each have memories they can't erase, and important details they just can't recall. With few props or effects for company, their memories are stitched together to try and make sense of it all. Remembering gets bonus points for impressive physical set-pieces and crossing languages convincingly, but a clincher ending is missing. That clumsy last step aside, this is a cute, well-constructed drama that might make you remember that 'thing', you know, that 'thing', that you'd forgotten.
– Niel Bekker

Thanks to Budget Car Hire for sponsoring our car. DRAMADY
Brother Number
Rob van Vuuren & James Cairns, directed by Jaco Bouwer
Just because Rob van Vuuren's name is attached to this production, doesn't mean it's all comedy. Quite the opposite actually. Set deep down in the depths of the Home Affairs building, Brother Number follows two brothers Steve and Harvey who make ID books. One makes the numbers and the other the lines. But when an explosion rips through their sheltered lives and allows them to escape the confines of their room, the brothers need to navigate the secrets, lies and halls of Home Affairs to safely make it back to one another, and to the outside world. A bizarre, unique story, Brother Number has just enough comedic elements to prevent the audience from forgetting that it's satire. Although only two people convey a multitude of characters and you're always convinced. Rob and James are just so good at what they do you're never left wondering, "Now who is this suppose to be?" It might not be laugh-a-minute, but Brother Number is definitely on our recommended list as one of the most original South African productions out there.
- Megan Kakora

Rob Van Vuuren is Rob Van Vuuren
By Rob Van Vuuren
Paying Rob van Vuuren to talk a bunch of poo: it's not as bad as it sounds. From the man who's brought 13 shows to the festival comes this gem of a sideshow recounting The Artist Formerly Known as Twakkie's many years on the stage. Oh, and his need to squeeze one out before a show. If you don't walk out offended, make a plan to bring an oxygen tank. At times, Van Vuuren is so funny you can scarcely catch your breath. Being a career retrospective, he also manages to share some honest opinions on the power of theatre. And crapping himself. Beware his jokes, or you might too.
- Niel Bekker

I, Claudia
Kirsten Thomson
I, Claudia comes to the South African stage having conquered Canada as well as being adapted for film. A lonely girl in the throes of puberty, called Claudia, tells her life story with uncommon wit in this enjoyable one woman show. Claudia’s opinionated monologues are alternated with those of three characters on the outer fringes of her lonely word, a janitor, her dad’s new girlfriend, and her grandfather. A shape-shifting performance by Susan Danford - who manages the multiple roles using cunningly-wrought masks - holds everything tightly together. That’s a lot of work for one person, however, and serious theatre goers may leave the auditorium feeling a little underfed. As far as a family night at the theatre goes, however, I, Claudia deserves every thumbs up it gets.
- Niel Bekker

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