Review – An Audience with Pieter-Dirk Eish!

2012-07-06 07:25

 The 66-year-old satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys strolled onto the Monument’s main stage last night in a black leather jacket to perform to a packed-to-capacity audience of aging white groupies and throngs of school kids. He left to a standing ovation.

The reason for the love had less to do with his performance – most of which we had seen before – and more to do with his heartfelt use of his platform to deliver a very particular message in between the impersonations that have cast him as an obstreperous national treasure.

Opening with a Spear gag and doubling the f-words to reel in the youngsters, Uys offered the audience the opportunity to structure his routine by selecting numbered boxes. Each contained a skit or character.

The first box selected was empty. It was a one-liner about the ANC’s service delivery.

After that we got Bambi Kellerman, the erotic and uninhibited younger sister of Evita Bezuidenhout, based in Germany.

Bambi did sex education. She did contraceptives and penis size and bananas and tricked the audience into laughing while demonstrating how to apply a condom: “the wrong way round and it looks like a Basotho hat”.

Uys then took the audience back to 1975 and his Grahamstown presentation of Strike Up the Banned to remind us of when he was not allowed to say the things he was saying now.

Then we got Noelle Fine, the mother ship of kugels. She’s at the airport in Canada – after attending her Cape Town school’s 50th reunion.

Noelle, who disliked apartheid even more than she disliked blacks, has aged poorly. She is bewildered and defiant. But she loves her ANC more than she loves her ex-pats.

We got Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela and Kgalema Motlanthe and Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma in sunglasses and a shower cap.
But really what we got was a deeply concerned Uys.

He is concerned about Aids. He is concerned about dwindling theatre audiences and about the threat to our freedom of expression in light of The Spear. He is particularly concerned about the Protection of State Information bill.

Drawing to a close, he shared that the festival had asked him to present something he had never shown before. He said yes, “if you can give me nine months.”

Jokes aside, the numbered boxes, he declared, are a secret weapon.

They are there to confuse the secret police this time next year. They will have to keep coming to the show to see which boxes are opened that night as each box contains a national secret – “because it’s our right to know”.

As an artist who has been banned, censored and threatened in the past, he suggests history may be repeating itself.
“If I do these jokes, will I go to jail next year?”

An Audience with Pieter-Dirk Eish! was funny and camp the whole way through – and it was also deadly serious.

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