Four decades worth of work is a great achievement. Pieter-Dirk Uys has reached the proverbial mountain top, and When in Doubt say Darling, is Uys telling his story as he wants to.
It’s a one-man show, and the stage is filled with box upon box, which happen to be the props - costumes, hair, hats, glasses and a newspaper featuring the day’s news that he has used over the years.
It felt awfully like a farewell show. Like Uys is using this show to retire. This was the first sobering moment for me; something that drove home the point that with all the deaths that have been around us, and shows like these, it is truly the end of the era.
When I had the chance to have a cup of tea with Uys, he explained where the title of the show had come from. And it’s a chuckle-worthy anecdote. Almost every single event in his life, whether on or off stage, has been in dazzling high definition colours, one wonders if along the way he’s had any ordinary experiences.
He’s clad in a black T-shirt, sweat pants and sneakers for a large chunk of the show, which enables him to do quick wardrobe changes on stage.
Of the many characters he has portrayed on his stage, there’s a select few who make it to this show, namely Jacob Zuma, PW Botha, Piet Koornhof and his alter ego, the most famous white woman in South Africa, and a member of the ANC in good standing, Evita Bezuidenhout.
En route to bringing out Evita, Angela Merkel and Theresa May pop up unexpectedly, and Uys delivers sharp impersonations of the two women.
In between the skits, Uys shares stories about his life in Darling.
I loved hearing about how the children of the town are getting to experience the arts and so many other things. The joy in this life he’s lived for the last 22 years is clearly evident in Uys’s voice when he talks about these experiences.
There is one small thing. In that audience, I was possibly one of the three younger people, with the majority of the audience being white men and women who are well over the age of 50. And the nostalgic laughter of the audience made me feel like I was peeking through the window while some senior citizens were reminiscing about the good ol’ days.
Some of the references required me to Google them for understanding. Which in all fairness, Uys warned would be the case. The other stuff was funny.
From the complexities of being a white man who satirises black politicians, to the irony of Piet Koornhof dating a coloured woman and the unbelievable tendencies of PW Botha, Uys packages these moments in a mixture of sketch and commentary.
A really touching sketch was about a man moving to a retirement village. I wondered if this was a reflection of Uys’s thoughts about growing old and retirement. You could also feel the energy in the room becoming a little more sombre.
If you know Uys, you probably have an opinion about his work. Love him or hate him, watching him on a stage is always an experience.
And who knows? This may just be the last one man show we get from him.
All the more reason to see it live.
Tickets are available from Computicket.