Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
A CurtainUp London Review
Elections and Erections
by Lizzie Loveridge
Underneath the humour and irony, "when many South Africans voted for the first time and some of them voted many times" there is a deadly serious point about the present government of South Africa, "the men and women who put the mock in democracy and the con in constitution." It is for Pieter-Dirk Uys and many gay men, the denial of the HIV/AIDS crisis, the refusal of Thabo Mbeki, the present President of South Africa to admit that AIDS is the result of a sexually transmitted disease that infuriates. And as those in power get richer, you can spot a government ministers' meeting by the number of Mercedes Benz parked outside, and the majority of the people get poorer, hope fades. Watching Pieter-Dirk Uys, there were moments when I thought about the courage of German satirists in the 1930s using the mask of comedy to make serious political points in a country full of fear and censorship. I loved the way Pieter-Dirk says that he will not criticise the present government, that he will not mention the excesses and abuses but then proceeds to do that, just by saying that he will not talk about this.
Pieter-Dirk Uys's show is quick fire patter, very funny as, changing into the costumes onstage, he parades a succession of characters, real and devised. He mimics the "GreatCrocodile", PW Botha, with his tongue darting, lip licking, finger poking speeches, who upheld the separatist state and switches to his famous drag creation, the over the top Jewish mother Evita Bezuidenhout. He impersonates Archbishop Desmond Tutu (who gave him some of his rings), Nelson Mandela, Brendan the air steward on the presidential private jet, and the white liberal middle aged woman who has adopted an AIDS orphan but who wears rubber gloves out of ignorance and fear. Pieter-Dirk also questions Mbeki's alliance with Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe. But it is his darkly comic portrayal of Grace Mugabe to the tune of Old MacDonald had a Farm which shows the wife of the Zimbabwean president shopping for farms and sanctioning the killing of white Zimbabweans as if on her legendary shopping expeditions. The point that Thabo is a rearrangement of the letters of Botha is well made.
Elections and Erections is welcome and important, not least because it reminds us how theatre can be used for serious political comment, comedy that does so much more than merely make us laugh.
Mendes at the Donmar
Peter Ackroyd's History of London: The Biography
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co. Click image to buy.
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.