Basil Appollis, with his deep, mellow speaking and singing voice, is stylish, absorbing and spirited in his touching play about life in District 6, part of the South African Season – in its last two weeks at Jermyn Street Theatre in London. Five star fare.
District 6 : Our Buckingham Palace, co-authored (with Sylvia Vollenhoven) and performed by Basil Appollis
Basil Appollis’ one-man monologue about the iconic South African playwright and academic Richard Rive is one of the finest theatrical pieces I have ever seen.
Very funny, clever, sad, with beautifully controlled emotion and just the right amount of nostalgia, it is about life off Caledon Street, District 6 before the Group Areas Act moved them to Mannenberg and beyond. Pitched at a universal audience but with touching undertones vir die ou Kaapenaars, it is a fascinating 90 minutes.
He sets the scene of an era when life for the dispossessed of District Six was all about Tupperware and things bought on lay-by, scrambling for seats to watch Zorro the Masked Marvel behind a screen of cigarette smoke in the Star Bioskoop, eating smoked snoek sarmies and drinking ginger beer at Christmas, skinnering about the ‘ladies’ at The Kasbah, kwela-ing to Makeba tapes, Sonnebloem College, teaching poetry at Retreat Junior School, leaving on the Union Castle liner from Duncan Dock to go overseas and much much more.
This was (the late) Rive’s background before he became an applauded international writer and banned writer in his homeland.
Appollis, with his deep, mellow speaking and singing voice, is stylish, absorbing and spirited, and his performance touches as many nerves as smiles and nods of recognition.
Do not miss his remaining shows on 30 June at 7pm, 3 and 5 July at 4pm and4 July at 9pm.
This is five-star fare.
The South African Season runs until Saturday 12 July.
Jermyn Street Theatre, 16b Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6ST
Box office 020 7287 2875
By Marianne Gray
Read our review of Fever, one of the other plays in the South African Season