An insecure poet (Bibi Slippers, appearing as herself) is defending her highly intertextual body of work in front of an unseen panel of academics (voiced by Nicole Holm). To help her win over the critics, the poet has enlisted the help of a troupe of actors (Anna-Mart van der Merwe, Schalk Bezuidenhout, Kathleen Stephens, Emma Kotze, and Len-Barry Simons) to perform her work. This results in the eruption of a delightful circus of physical theatre, comedic sketches, dancing, singing, and general madness (directed by Wessel Pretorius).
Despite the fact that the academic-defence-gone-wrong framing device doesn’t really work —a transparently anxious Slippers just falls off her big girl heels a few too many times while performing her discomfort, with the result that one finds oneself siding with the disapproving voice of the examiner on more than one occasion— the show is ultimately an enjoyable experience.
Van der Merwe’s commanding and energetic presence is reason enough to see this production, but the rest of the formidable ensemble certainly don’t disappoint. Bezuidenhout’s deadpan delivery of bad daytime soap dialogue and Stephens’s pitch-perfect physical comedy are the ideal foil to Kotze’s entrancing ballet-and-recital combination and Simons’s exuberant singing. In her performance, Van der Merwe once again confirms that she could lend profundity to a reading of potato soup recipes should the need arise.
Faultless, captivating ensemble work —that includes everything from a Beyoncé tribute to a vocalisation of an emoji-filled exchange and ends on an absolutely perfect vogueing sequence— allows Fotostaatmasjien to leave a distinct impression. The production debuted at the 2018 Woordfees, whereafter it is KKNK bound. Tickets available through Computicket.