Scene It: Vintage Committie in THE LYING KING

December 19, 2019

Like a master chef using many and diverse ingredients to serve up a toothsome feast, comedian Alan Committie draws on a bewildering variety of topics, artfully blended by some very tenuous links, to keep his audience chuckling throughout the duration of his latest show.


A combination of intelligence, wit, topicality and a keen sense of the ridiculous is the cornerstone of Committie's recipe for laughter, with that hoariest of tools, the Pun, frequently exploited and seldom failing to serve his purpose. The title of this show already contains two specimens, and as we are in the festive season, Christmas cracker jokes - puns with a groan factor off the planet - are predictably de rigueur.


Lions and wild life, despite the evocative set, have little to do with The Lying King; the nearest Committie comes referencing the musical is to remark how its plot mirrors that of Shakespeare's Hamlet before he goes off on another of many tangents...

It is more the circle of laugh which recurs in this one-hander, and an oft-mentioned circle is the latest addition to the roads around the new Constantia Emporium, to which this comedian appears to have a deep-seated aversion. Cape Town's notorious traffic congestion and its attendant challenges are prime targets for resentment, however comically expressed, so the choice of this confusing traffic roundabout as material for mirth resonates richly with the audience. Not for nothing does the circle of life become the circle of strife.


Trump-bashing is inevitable, as are uncomplimentary remarks about mobile phone servers (Vodacom) retail stores (Woolworths), fake news, and the excesses of modern art. A contemporary masterpiece of installation (a banana taped to a wall and cunningly illuminated for a staggering sum of Euros) is replete with irony, and Committie cannot resist the temptation to compete with some creations of his own, like an apple stuck on a nail in the wall.


An element of structure is added to this happy farrago by several leitmotifs, among them gentle victimization of a couple of audience members, repeated attempts to impress with newly-acquired prowess on the keyboard, and glee at the occasional new joke to be stored for later use. 


Tried and tested favourites in Committie shows, such as contrived associations evolving out of a single word (in this case, "dishonesty"), with a little help from faux Latin, as well as suburb-bashing and critiques of applause, are not wanting. What is new is a brilliant display of flags (more puns) to narrate the course of a love-affair, and - best of all - some Committie wisdom concerning the paradox of less knowledge amid more information in our technologically dependent society.


Thought-provoking, relevant, and mostly joyous, this is vintage Alan Committie delivered with skillful direction from Christopher Weare.


The Lying King (Circle of Laugh)

Director: Christopher Weare

Cast: Alan Committie

Venue: Theatre on the Bay, until January 25

Booking: Computicket

Rating: 4


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