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THE CHESTER MISSING ROADSHOW. Directed by Heinrich Reisenhofer, with Conrad Koch. At The Baxter Theatre until Saturday at 8.15pm. ASTRID STARK reviews.
SOUTH Africa’s infamous and “previously disadvantaged mannequin”, has broken away from the shackles imposed by his master and is now seeking his revenge on television and stage.
In a bizarre move, Mr Chester Missing, the puppet, and South Africa’s latest, hippest and rudest political commentator, seems to have overthrown ventriloquist Conrad Koch in his bid for superstardom.
Chester is one of Koch’s most well-loved characters and in this return to the stage he brings a mouthful of his scathing political and social satire with him.
He is joined by Hillary, a boozy and lecherous ostrich, and Ronnie, a freaky little green monster. But it is really Chester’s show as he humiliates and picks on Koch and local and international politicians and celebrities.
The stage design is clean and the few props include the puppets’ suitcases splattered with stickers from their world travels.
It is a multimedia show which includes projection on to a large screen, puppeteering, ventriloquism and stand-up comedy.
Koch, who has an honours in anthropology, uses the stage for a bit of philosophising and a lot of comedy. As a ventriloquist he is on top of his game; excellent really.
The banter on stage gets wild and Koch invites an audience member to join him, Hilary the ostrich gets involved and things get raunchy and riotous. The show carries a 13 age restriction.
Koch never wavers or misses a beat with any of his characters. They simply come alive in front of your eyes and it is quite magical.
It is always peculiar to me that once you have stuck your hand into a puppet, you can get away with saying just about anything. We are surprisingly forgiving of a ventriloquist unleashing a string of obscenities and politically incorrect comments through the beak of a diva ostrich who has the mind of a filthy sailor and a laughs like a blocked drainpipe.
The show is a hoot from beginning to end, but perhaps a little annoying is Koch’s overly dramatic apologising for the unruly behaviour of his puppets. Having seen Ronnie previously in the show Koch Up I must say he is one of my favourites and we only get to see a tiny bit of him, but then it is Chester’s show, and he is royally demanding.
Koch manages to get to the very essence of our political zeitgeist and he does so in great style and with great courage.
He is quite fortunate as our politicians afford him the perfect playground. And it is indeed strange days in South Africa as we look on in exasperation at how many of our politicians have taken their shenanigans to a new level of ridiculousness.
Nkandlagate was initially wrenched open only to be firmly shut again as the powers that be continue to give the nod to ludicrously expensive upgrades and renovations.
There are talks of a new political party and the usual parliamentarian fashion showdown elicited its annual outraged response from the public because of its irritating road closures.
Chester is quickly obtaining notoriety for interviewing political heavies on e.tv’s Late Nite News where he has had some hilarious and poignant encounters with Mosiuoa Lekota, Helen Zille, Blade Nzimande and Gwede Mantashe.
In an interview with Zille, during which he also shamelessly flirted with her, he asked, “How many hours per day do you practise being black?” – for once Zille was left speechless. She soon recovered to call Chester a “refugee from rationality”.
Sometimes the only way to deal with the madness that is our political world is to laugh in its face. Chester Missing delivers the giggles necessary to help get us in a semi-sane state to the next election.
l Tickets are R130. To book, call the Baxter 021 685 7880, or Computicket at 0861 915 8000, or book at Shoprite and Checkers outlets.