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SCENE IT: MY FELLOW SOUTH AFRICANS hits the purposive satirical nail on the head

Barbara Loots

 

MY FELLOW SOUTH AFRICANS, currently onstage at the Artscape Theatre until 20 May 2023, does exactly what it promises to do: It gives audiences an entertaining satirical take on contemporary South Africa and does so by merging wit and commentary in a provokingly entertaining manner.

MY FELLOW SOUTH AFRICANS is conceived as a revue of older, updated, and new sketches penned by Mike van Graan. The intent of this collection is to make the audience think, squirm and laugh all at once, and it does so with great success. The production’s use of Zapiro cartoons for added political context has great impact too. The talented Kim Blanche Adonis is the ever consummate professional and a joy to watch onstage as she guides you through the turmoil of current day South Africa.


Some of the stand-out sketches on offer in MY FELLOW SOUTH AFRICANS are the modern day Romeo and Juliet (focussing on the issues of racism, gender empowerment, and identity) and a round-table discussion with young student activists (briefly touching on the fallism debate, which short sketch I would happily have more off).


MY FELLOW SOUTH AFRICANS should be compulsory viewing for everyone before next year’s elections, as it hits the purposive satirical nail on the head with great precision.


With all that going for the production, it is a bit disappointing that it appears to lack the fast paced rhythm and heart usually associated with satirical shows staged by this creative team. This I don’t assign to any shortcoming of the production itself, I rather question whether the venue, the Artscape Innovation Lounge, does the production any favours. Some of the sketches included in the show have previously been showcased to great theatrical effect, so I know what standard to measure them by. The only variable then is the venue, leaving me to think that somehow the almost corporate feel of the venue dulls down the punchy, high energy character of the show: The venue does not have the acoustics to match the nature of the show and does not amplify the show with the theatrical elements that it deserves. In short, it felt as if the venue presented the production in a demurer manner than is intended for such an intimately designed, high octane, satirical production that doesn’t hold back on the political punches.


Regardless of the venue concern, the punches and the wit are still at the centre of the show and I found these elements very enjoyable. I would encourage people to go see this cleverly developed production. MY FELLOW SOUTH AFRICANS unpacks the concerns, corruption, conundrums and plain confusion we are all faced with in this contemporary state of the nation. It helps to be amongst theatre friends when laughing at the state of our (almost comical) reality: MY FELLOW SOUTH AFRICANS is the group therapy we all need to survive the forthcoming (Eskom-unlit) uncertainty of our country’s political future in 2024.


MY FELLOW SOUTH AFRICANS is currently onstage the Artscape Theatre until 20 May 2023, with tickets available online through Computicket. The show carries an age restriction of 16. Ticket prices range from R95 to R145.


Also keep an eye out for other future productions, as the same creative team plans to tour a completely different show – HE HAD IT COMING – that addresses issues of gender-based violence and related themes, with income generated from MY FELLOW SOUTH AFRICANS helping to subsidise this tour to schools and communities that may not be able to afford the show but would benefit from having access to it.  

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