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ADAPT OR FLY
CAST: Pieter-Dirk Uys
VENUE: Baxter Theatre
UNTIL: June 30
To paraphrase Pieter-Dirk Uys quoting someone else, history doesn’t repeat itself so much as rhyme. Also, when history then repeats itself, it turns tragedy to farce.
In his latest production, which is an updated reprise of Adapt or Dye, a show he did 30 years, Uys raises the chilling spectre of similarities between our present and previous government.
He has updated the show by tracking the country’s political history alongside his personal career as a satirist.
We get sketches of the most favoured characters he has lampooned and lambasted over the years, from DF Malan to more recently Jacob Zuma.
Using a few “cheap” plastic crates he hauls out key props to remind us of characters he didn’t create, we, the public, allowed.
With just a pair of specs, a mobile face and a wagging finger he transforms himself into PW Botha, then he dons a ridiculous ear and nose mask to bring us Piet Koornhof.
When he comes to Koornhof – the ultimate reject from a Disney show – Uys has to step out of character and comment on the irony of being sent Christmas cards by the ruling party. Is he really doing his work properly as subversive satirist if the rulers of the day like him? After all, his job is to point out that the emperor has no clothes, to highlight how absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Sad, then, that almost two decades into the new South Africa, Uys is angry enough to do it all over again. Between the suggested secrecy bill and the controversy around Brett Murray’s painting The Spear, there’s more than enough material just begging to be interrogated.
The second half of the show could do with some pruning in that it lacks the pacing of the first half as the sketches become longer, more complicated and more predicated on pathos than anger.
We get more of the characters Uys has created over the years, like Nowell Fine and, of course, everyone’s favourite tannie, Evita Bezuidenhout.
Do not underestimate the inventiveness of bad politics, warns Uys as he makes us laugh, but are we listening to what he’s really saying?
Using biting wit, dark sarcasm and totally un-pc entertainment, he enlightens us, challenging to pay attention to what is happening right under our noses.