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A CurtainUp London Review
Evita for President
His new show is entitled Evita for President and some of it is the supposed political campaign of his leading lady when Mbeki comes to the end of his second session as President of South Africa, unless of course as Pieter-Dirk wryly observes, he should change the law to allow a third term! He looks at South Africa before and after the 1994 establishment of the New South Africa. Writing in the programme, Pieter-Dirk says, "My South Africa is a thirteen year old teenager on the edge of adulthood with all the confusions, expectations, demands, fears and fantasies that entails."
There are some lines or allusions which will only be understood by those who have a good knowledge of South Africa, but do not think that Evita for President is only for South African ex-patriates of whom there are quite a number in London. You may not get the exact context but there is plenty to laugh at and he has inserted some digs at the British and American politicians as well.
There are serious points to be made. In character, as a female Muslim shopkeeper, he bemoans the lack of employment prospects for the husband who "can't get a job because he isn't black enough." ("He didn't get a job under apartheid because he wasn't white enough.") He pillories the American government for imitating the Apartheid regime and locking up people without a trial, not on Robben Island where Mandela was imprisoned, but in Guantanamo Bay on Cuba. I loved the line when talking about a certain politician's transplant operation he speculates that, " . . . the liver might reject the body!"
Pieter-Dirk Uys ploughs much of the profits from this show into his theatre near Cape Town in a little place called Darling. He tells a wonderful story of a small African boy whose singing talent he encouraged and who, years later, came second in the Trinity College of Music exams for singing. As Evita, he tells us he wrote to the Adrian Vlok of the South African Secret Police under Apartheid, asking for them to lock up Pieter-Dirk Uys! He reminds us of how important humour is to human understanding.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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