Aaron McIlroy is a riot in the one-hander, ‘A Vegan Killed My Marriage’

Aaron McIlroy as James in ‘A Vegan Killed My Marriage’. Picture: Supplied

Aaron McIlroy as James in ‘A Vegan Killed My Marriage’. Picture: Supplied

Published Jul 2, 2024


FRESH from performing at the National Arts Festival (NAF) in Makhanda, Aaron McIlroy was thrilled to chat about “A Vegan Killed My Marriage”, which starts its run at the Theatre on the Square on Tuesday, July 2.

The play is written and directed by another industry legend, Craig Freimond, who has bagged several awards in his illustrious career.

If the title of the play tickles the funny bone, brace yourself for the show, which is cleverly written, delivering on the drama, humour and a bit of introspection about life.

In this one-hander, the “Spud” actor plays James, who went from being the “King of the Braai” to a vegetarian thanks to a life-changing work trip to the KZN Midlands.

Fuelled by his concern for the climate crisis, he embraces his new lifestyle. But the same can’t be said of his meat-loving wife.

McIlroy said the play was conceived during Covid-19.

“Craig is the writer and director. We were originally commissioned by the Market to do a small piece during Covid for a virtual festival. And it went online. It was only about 25 minutes long. And then we kept playing around with it and now it is nearly an hour long.”

Aaron McIlroy as James in ‘A Vegan Killed My Marriage’. Picture: Supplied

He said: “I’ve performed twice at the National Arts Festival. I’ve been at The Baxter in Cape Town and at the Seabrooke Theatre in Durban.”

Interestingly, the play won a Bronze Ovation Award at last year’s NAF. Also, it’s the first time the show will be playing in Joburg.

On the feedback so far, McIlroy says its been interesting.

“I thought it would be more divisive than it is. I think Craig was clever with the casting. Essentially, I should portray every man, if that makes sense.

“It is like every man has this epiphany and is faced with the reality of life changing. The non-vegan aligned who come to the show are not very antagonistic.

“They think I’m speaking for them too because it does speak into that space. At the same time, it is very affirming for people who are vegan.

“It sort of straddles both sides of the fence without selling out. Craig is very clever in the way he has written it.

“He doesn’t pull a lot of punches but he does show how irritating it is when people want to change but they don’t want to change themselves, they want to change everyone around them.”

That summation alone, is relatable.

McIlroy continued to sing Freimond’s praises.

“It’s been really great working with him. I don’t just say that because he will be reading this. When I first heard the story, I thought it was so intriguing.

“I thought it was a story for everyone, whether you were vegan or thinking about becoming a vegan … or not. It’s about change in a relationship.

“The comedy aspect of it really appeals to me as well. Also, it’s very organic in how it’s written. There is something in the heartbeat of this play that speaks to everyone.”

Of course, McIlroy is a riot on stage as he unpacks James’s transition, which mushrooms into a war zone at home.

Where: Theatre on the Square.

When: Runs until July 14, 7.30pm on weekdays and at 5pm and 8pm on Saturdays.

Cost: R150 - R200 from Computicket.

Van Wyk: The Storyteller of Riverlea

Well-known actor Zane Meas helms this one-hander, which he also wrote.

Directed by Campbell Meas, it tells the story of Chris van Wyk, a prolific writer, author, poet and editor from Soweto.

Zane Meas in a scene from ‘Van Wyk: The Storyteller of Riverlea’. Picture: Supplied

Instrumental for unpacking social justice through his famous works – “Shirley, Goodness & Mercy”, “It Is Time for the Siblings to Move Out”, “Ouma Ruby’s Secret” as well as a children’s version of Nelson Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom” – the play unpacks his legacy.

Zane penned this play as a tribute to his close friend, revisiting Riverlea, a neighbourhood known for his rich cultural tapestry and resistance against apartheid.

Where: Roodepoort Theatre.

When: Runs until July 12, 7pm. Times differ on the weekend.

Cost: R120 from Webtickets.

Disney’s Winnie The Pooh

Now if you are stressing about how to keep the kids entertained over the school holidays, worry not.

The Peoples Theatre is staging its second musical, “Disney’s Winnie The Pooh”.

In this production, Pooh, Christopher Robin, Piglet, Owl, Kanga, Roo and, last but not least, Eeyore, are concerned entirely with what children are most interested in: friends, food, birthdays, tree houses and grand expeditions.

Director Jill Girard said: “There are no better stories for sharing, reading aloud or for finding one’s way back to the essence of childhood.

“Come along to the Peoples Theatre for this fantastic musical that seeks to remind us all about the simple joys of that childlike abandon that will find you ‘doing nothing … or at least nothing that has to do with anything’.”

In this interactive stage production, Luciano Zuppa plays Winnie the Pooh, Lesedi Mpshe plays Tigger and Owl, Jermain Johnson is cast as Eeyore, Nomakhosi Mkhonza slips into the skin of Piglet, Palesa Makhalima hops into the role of Rabbit and Jamie Nell plays Kanga.

The roles of Christopher Robin will be alternated between Caiden Distiller, Stella Rutstein, Vivian Radebe-Llewellyn, and the same will apply to Roo, which will be shared between Peo-entle Pitso, Phelang Lepati and Zia Kani.

Where: Peoples Theatre at Joburg Theatre.

When: Runs until July 28. Show times for schools are Tuesday to Friday at 9am and 11am and for the public at 10am and 2.30pm on weekends and school holidays.

Cost: R165 from Webtickets.