2012 South African Theatre Retrospective: Cabaret and Comedy
Comedy shows were also prominent throughout the year, with many comics doing one night shows and short runs at venues around the country and longer runs at the National Arts Festival and as the year drew to a close. Old favourites like Marc Lottering and David Newton appeared in appeared in new shows or revivals of their trademark shows, while up-and-comers like Siv Ngesi, Oskar Brown and Daniel Friedman continued to carve their niche in the industry.
The pick of the bunch for me was Martin Evans's show F.B.P.K. Evans, whose show dealt with his experiences following an accident he had on his Yamaha Zuma, which led to a protracted recovery in hospital and at home. This led Evans on a journey of revelations, both comic and moral and all wrapped up in the ubiquitous question of South Afrcan identity. What set this show apart for me were the clear sense of narrative and purpose that Evans wove into his material as well as the casual and unaffected style of delivery.
In his new show, NO, SERIOUSLY?, Alan Committie also worked in a healthy dose of audience interaction. One segment of the show, entitled "Ask Alan Any Questions That You Want", invited the audience to ask Committie any questions they want. Matthew Wild, Staff Director and Dramaturge at Cape Town Opera, said that he tremendously enjoyed the show, which covered a host of topics ranging from how 50 SHADES OF GREY can save South African education through to SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE? auditions you never got to see on TV.
In AN AUDIENCE WITH PIETER-DIRK EISH!, Pieter-Dirk Uys presented a showcase of his best loved characters (like Evita Bezuidenhout and Noelle Fine) and impersonations (including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and a range of previous South African statesmen), linked by a series of sharp philosophical insights into life in contemporary South Africa. What made this more than simply a "greatest hits" evening was the fact that every show was different, with the audience selecting the line-up from 15 prepared skits that were represented by boxes lined up on stage at the top of the show, and that Uys's social commentary was up-to-date and completely relevant. Freelance writer, actor, singer and musician Godfrey Johnson picked Uys's show as the best thing he saw on South African stages this past year, saying the show reminded him of how important honesty is on stage.
Want to share your thoughts on the best comedy shows and cabarets you saw around South Africa over the past year? Leave your comments beneath this article - and keep an eye out for our look at the shows that will be on offer on South African stages early next year.
Photo Credits: Stefan Hurter (AN AUDIENCE WITH PIETER-DIRK EISH!)
More On: Noël Coward, Cole Porter, Jacques Brel, Jonathan Roxmouth, Desmond Tutu.