The beautiful synergy of all the theatre elements of Wessel Pretorius’ Sê My Naam Soos ‘n Starbucks Knaap makes it a must see at Alexander Upstairs. It would be a theatre-sin to miss out on this Cinderella-in-tekkies adventure to the land of cheese and pearls.
Every now and then one is fortunate enough to find a show where you fall in love with the protagonist immediately. The colourful Annetjie ‘Vleis’ De Vries, as created and performed by Wessel Pretorius, is such an endearing, instant favourite. Completely flawed (reflecting the mundane, even unpleasant, truths of life juxtaposed to the fairy tale sold by Hallmark movies), and truly fantastically a tad common (too Rustenburg to be fabulously kitsch), she is absolutely charming as she tries to break free from the traps of wallflower mediocrity.
Annetjie takes you into her confidence as she waits for her delayed flight to Amsterdam along with her hopped-up on rescue remedy SPCA adopted marmot, Joachim. Without being egocentric or sorry for herself, Annetjie light-heartedly reveals the cards she’s been dealt with the early death of her neglected mother, the emotional abuse by her loser father, and the pressures of a child raising her twelve siblings as life slowly passes her by. She walks you through her life of shattered dreams and cheap turquoise material with a smile on her face and a tear in your eye. You laugh along with her witty, survival-inspired poetic slogans, because both you and Annetjie recognise the need to see the hilarity in the absurdity of what should otherwise be a Betty Neels penned Mills & Boon prologue.
Pretorius’ instinctive delivery and great timing makes it a true pleasure to be on the other side of this conversation. While the fourth wall is non-existent, you never have to fear audience participation. It’s all just simply a delight to behold. The subtle balance between the comedy and the pathos in Pretorius’ script is a big part of the play’s magic. The narrative’s emotional (but not overly sentimental) rollercoaster arc leaves you on a great high; the twists that come with each next loop-de-loop a lovely nod to the 80s rom-com motif.
Though billed as a comedy, you can expect more than just a laugh or a fun chuckle in this deceptively simplistic production. Sê My Naam Soos ‘n Starbucks Knaap is an honest exchange with a vivacious, soulful character. The resultant laughter is the ointment that shields Annetjie's heart from the stings and stabs of life.
Yes, it’s an Afrikaans play, but it’s so beautifully expressive, and Pretorius so animated in his performance thereof, that I’m convinced the charm of this play will not be lost in translation. You only have until 30 May 2019 to be utterly enchanted by Sê My Naam Soos ‘n Starbucks Knaap. Tickets available online at shows.alexandebar.co.za. Book now!