‘An Audience with Pieter-Dirk Uys’ at Soho Theatre is an evening spent with a legendary entertainer who does not disappoint in bringing a large slice of South Africa to London.
This weekend I attended a show at the Soho Theatre called An Audience with Pieter-Dirk Uys.
Not entirely sure what (or whom out of the legendary performer and satirist’s character arsenal) to expect we were given an entertaining whistle stop history of the political intricacies of South Africa.
Piquing my curiosity were the 14 boxes lining the back of the stage, flanked by wooden crates.
In Act One, Uys dived straight into a run-through of South Africa’s political history for the life span of our ‘tour guide’ starting at ‘Oom Daniel’ Malan and the beginnings of nationalism, taking a left at his admission to owning a banned picture of Nelson Mandela, stashed under his mattress, concluding with FW de Klerk and the fall of apartheid.
Four lucky audience members were then given the chance to choose a numbered box in which lay the accessories for a character Uys would then perform. I was delighted to see Noelle Fine, chosen first and then second too.
Her first commentary was a recent update as Noelle sat in Toronto airport. She was returning from a school reunion held in Canada, as opposed to Cape Town due to mass emigration. Her second contrasting appearance was a flashback from 1985 revisiting the fear of revolution and sense of ‘impending doom’ as the regime began to crumble.
The third box was empty, cleverly symbolising the recent spate of empty government promises. Grace Mugabe was then chosen and performed to much laughter tinged with bitter reality.
The final act took us through the last 20 years of democracy, from Madiba to Zuma and touching on Malema. It was fantastic to see that Uys has not lost his bite, nor his enthusiasm for our homeland. His ability to poke fun while remaining upbeat is inspiring.
The jewel in Uys’s crown, Tannie Evita Bezuidenhout, was then introduced by a voice recording made by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu (assuring us he was indeed the real thing). She regaled us with tales of making koeksisters for Madiba and translating ‘Umshini Wam’ for the Queen.
I left the theatre thoroughly entertained, uplifted and proudly South African. Long may this national treasure continue to help us laugh at ourselves, and see the many positive aspects of our country.
The show runs until 27 July and I’m tempted to go again to see what other character gems remain unopened in those boxes!
Sun 13 — Sun 27 July. Sun & Mon 7pm, Tue — Sat 9pm
Previews 13-14 July, £10.
Tue-Thu £15 (£12.50), Fri- Sun £20 (£17.50)
Book on www.sohotheatre.com/whats-on/an-audience-with-pieter-dirk-uys