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Nataniël brings the laughs on stage

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TO nats in song

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Natani�

Glittergun For Ceilings. Comes with Cartridges
PERFORMER: Nataniël
MUSICIANS: Charl du Plessis (keyboards), Hugo Radyn (drums), Werner Spies (bass)
UNTIL: February 15
VENUE: Centurion Theatre
RATING: ****

 

How does one person constantly come up with descriptions like “she looks like a squirrel in a wind tunnel” when describing someone who has had a facelift?

Describing a name with what he feels is a syllable too much turns into a three-minute tale with hilarious results.

The glorious thing about Nataniël is his versatility. Take this solo show in the intimate Centurion Theatre.

For the past handful and more years, he has been doing his grand annual show at Emperors this time of year. Now it has moved to October, which has allowed him to extend his annual pre-Christmas show for a few weeks at the start of the year. This might not be grand scale, but he pays no less attention to detail and goes to as much trouble.

Dressed to the hilt – naturally – (with a few costume changes manufactured from just two costumes that unfurl), he also has four covered domes (to be revealed) on stage apart from the odd dozen glitter balls hanging from the theatre ceiling just behind him to add glitz to this ritzy run.

It’s the story of “cabinets of curiosity”, but if you want to know more about this historic phenomenon, he’s happy to oblige – and you won’t stop giggling.

He is a genius at painting visual pictures as he tells the story of a waiter “who is going through a phase” who has to serve a couple as they try to catch the Strand’s sparkling sunset view.

There’s a problem. As the sun hangs horizontally in line with the apartment it blinds anyone trying to catch the spectacle, or so the story goes…

Don’t even try to retell any of his tales. They’re so dense and fit into one another so deftly, you don’t get it even half right. His stories are like playing a good tennis point.

It starts with the serve and from there you work the angles and the pace. If you’re successful, it’s perfect. And his usually are – time and time again.

Then there’s the music. He has a treasure trove to pick from and is constantly adding his own compositions, which have adopted a unique style over the years as well as embossing the stories, and cover versions which can range from a Sarah Vaughan number to the latest boy band (“Who might already be disbanded by the time I hear about them,” he quips).

He talks about this being more a music-slanted show; and so he should, because of the sparkling quality of his voice, the clever selection of songs and his fantastic trio of musicians with Du Plessis on the bandstand. They pump and one is constantly amazed by the sound they achieve in what is a rather restricted space, but they are pitch-perfect.

But then, even through a song, you’re still smiling at something Nataniël said just before he started tapping the rhythms.

It’s the full package that’s so impressive and he never drops in quality or misses a beat, whether he’s performing to 200 or 4 000 fans.

He taps into your psyche with his stories and his songs and then sends you off with a contented smile. It’s soul food.

• Nataniël has just released a DVD with a bonus CD of the last Emperor’s show, Factory, and will be releasing a live jazz album on March 1.

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