THE POWER STRUGGLE. Written by Nik Rabonowitz, Tom Eaton and Darrel Bristow-Bovey, with Nik Rabinowitz. At The Baxter Theatre Centre until Saturday. TRACEY SAUNDERS reviews
BILLED as “50% green friendly and 100% vegan” Power Struggle sounds like a smoothie served at a local Noordhoek café, and if Rabinowitz has his way that’s what we will soon be quaffing – environmentally friendly beverages in solar powered venues contemplating our role in the destruction of the planet. Pondering the end of the world is no laughing matter, unless you are Nik Rabinowitz in which case it’s a laugh a minute, an El Niño induced whirlwind rush.
This is not a stand up comedy show and if you are expecting the usual blend of scatological humour and tired misogynist one liners you will be disappointed. If you are after a wry, satirical and thoroughly engaging commentary on one of the more urgent dilemmas of the 21st century then this will tick all your boxes. The script is clever, very very clever and one can’t help but try and figure out which of the talented triumvirate penned the various sketches.
The brittle and dry humour of Eaton and Bristow-Bovey makes for hysterical moments. From gay marriage in the desert to swingers in Upington they cover almost every off-side topic and political correctness is not something either of them pay any heed to. The result is satire that cuts very close to the bone and is not for the faint-hearted. The comedian is an equal opportunity offender so whether you live in Hout Bay or Hanover Park you are considered fair game.
His observations are so pithy and well observed though that the impulse to take offence is overridden by the overwhelming sense of recognition. Aided and abetted by Morgan Freeman in his opening sequence, Nik explains why the current trend of climate concern has become part of his daily musings.
Aside from himself he portrays various characters – from a hilarious Jewish caveman to an addled British eccentric with a varied sexual appetite. Male comics pretending to be woman can be cringe-worthy but he slips surprisingly well in to the skin of his mother-in-law. The Jewish mother in despair about the career choice of her comic son in law drew vast laughs of recognition and not just from Jewish members of the audience.
Rabinowitz is not the first local comedian to tackle climate change and the challenges of living an environmentally responsible life. Mark Sampson’s Africa Clockwise examined the comedian’s growing realization that taking care of the planet is not something that can be outsourced but is everyone’s responsibility. He went a step further and together with his family; wife Sam Pearce and children converted a 10 ton truck into a travelling home and travelled clockwise around Africa. Four years later they are still on the road. In the relatively short space of time since they departed, the attitude toward renewable energy has changed drastically.
These days everyone is sizing up their roofs for solar panels and claiming long lasting friendships with Elon Musk, the Steve Jobs of renewable energy. While Sampson is powering his journey around Africa with recycled cooking oil Rabinowitz is using it to power the electricity which keeps the sound and lights on during the show. The set design is ingenuous and in addition to being just that, a set, it also serves as a mini renewable energy expo stand, complete with wind turbines which are responsible for maintaining equilibrium in the Hadeda population. If he could just find a similar solution for Egyptian Geese he would have a winner on his hands.
Nik has a few political jokes up his sleeve, but the show focuses on the mundane stuff as well as the big questions: should you wear Lycra, will worm farms be part of land restitution deals and how does Buzz Feed find all those cute pictures? Armed with Wikipedia search results and lots of chutzpah he may just make you think twice before putting a down payment on a Hummer. With political turmoil and economic woes the order of the day, taking some time out to just laugh at it all may be one of the best possible options on offer.