Evita for President
Written and performed by Pieter-Dirk Uys
Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn
Thirteen years of democracy and memories of preceding years of Apartheid provide a fertile ground for stage performers. Pieter-Dirk Uys' humour, dressed in satire, caricature and mimicry, exposes some of the social and political events and characters that preoccupy his beloved county.
He strides on stage, casually dressed in black, and, as if he is in the middle of a chat with old friends, says, "Two questions are asked round the table in South Africa." With a charming smile and casual address, drops a cynical comment: "One must not be horrible about politicians. Where will we be without them? I know I will be speechless." This is familiar territory for the audience and makes it feel reasonably comfortable.
The show is like an exotic salad prepared by the master and sole chef, the South African veteran comedian, Pieter-Dirk Uys. The characters impersonated, some more familiar than others, prove to have an additional flavour one may have not encountered before. It is all in the dressing. The mixing bowl is in a form of a formidable, yet fictitious white lady, with the name of Evita Bezuidenhout. Uys derisively informs us that she is so popular that even the world's darling politician Nelson Mandela, invites HER.
The characters who are made the butt of Uys' sarcasm and mockery are mainly past and present South African politicians garnished with Mother Teresa and suicide bombers up in Paradise. The Apartheid era politicians managed to escape trial for crimes against humanity and even masquerade as embracing the new democracy. The main protagonist of the new democracy is President Thabo Mbeki. A puppet in his image occupies a centre seat on stage. Mbeki's love for foreign trips keeps him out of the country together with his cronies, who are branded as corrupt, leaving the country leaderless. Some politicians when traveling within Africa are said to do so via Paris, leaving the crime rate uncontrolled. HIV and Aids peppered with wanton ignorance, a declining economy and more. Despite it all we are reminded that even if some think that the country is going down the drain"'at least it is our drain."
The stage accommodates a row of chairs bearing the name "Mbeki" and different guises used by Uys to slip in and out the different characters. We finally meet the proposed candidate for December Presidency election. She is Dame Edna Everage's South African twin, replacing the ostentatious spectacles with formidable eyelashes.
This show offers an entertaining evening for those interested in politics.
Until 1st September 2007
Reviewer: Rivka Jacobson