Oskar Brown, ONE NIGHT ONLY, Richard's Supper Stage, Pieter-Dirk Uys, Baxtre Theatre
There seems to be an abundance of comedy shows in Cape Town at the moment. Names like Siv Ngesi, Trevor Noah, Alyn Adams and Marc Lottering have been and are lighting up theatre billboards around town and fans of comedy will have something to watch on any night they choose well into the new year. Two of the acts I managed to catch are Oskar Brown in his ONE NIGHT ONLY show at Richard’s Supper Stage and Bistro and Pieter-Dirk Uys in his latest outing at the Baxter, AN AUDIENCE WITH PIETER-DIRK EISH! Although the two shows are vastly different in approach and style, both offer plenty of laughs and entertainment for their respective audiences.
Oskar Brown, a South African living in Germany, returned to the southern hemisphere to offer just two performances – one in in Namibia and one in South Africa – of ONE NIGHT ONLY, a show he started developing while he was still studying Theatre and Performance at the University of Cape Town. In the show, he tells a number of stories linked by the theme of coming of age. There are stories about girls and bananas, silkworms, masturbation, school and racial dynamics. Each has moments that elicit chuckles, and the biggest set pieces of the evening tickle your belly with some hearty guffaws.
One of the trademarks of Brown's performance seems to be connecting with the audience as they arrive. While we were all enjoying the relaxed atmosphere in Richard’s, nibbling on dinner or desserts or just having a drink, Brown wondered around from table to table, having a word with each of us. Someone else at my table was relieved to find out while chatting to him that this was not the kind of comedy show where audience members get singled out and heckled, while I found it interesting to hear Brown describe himself not as a standup comic, but rather as a hybrid of storyteller and comedian. It was also a time in which Brown was able to connect with the huge German presence in the audience, which led to one or two German punchlines in the show which seemed to go over the heads of the folks at our table.
A sense of storytelling is certainly clear in Brown's delivery. He is gifted in his ability to craft imagery with words. Several stories were told about that installation in every school: the annoyingly perfect student who makes everyone else feel less intelligent than they are. There could not have been a single person in the audience who was unable to imagine this student's stumpy pencil and the brilliance of her projects after Brown's evocative descriptions of them. My other favourite story of the night revolved around Brown's experience with mumps, a disease that I am absolutely paranoid about contracting. His tale confirmed all my fears and yet I was left with a silly grin on my face, which made me think that, yes, this guy has something to say and a pretty charming and engaging way of going about it. Although the show needs, perhaps, a director’s eye to fine tune its rhythms and perhaps polish up on some of its presentational gimmicks, it is worth keeping an eye out for encore performances of the show should Brown return to South Africa as planned next year.
Born and bred in South Africa, David has loved theatre since the day he set foot on stage in his preschool nativity play. He graduated with a Master of Arts (Theatre and Performance) degree from the University of Cape Town in 2005, having previously graduated from the same university with a First Class Honours in Drama in 2002. An ardent essayist, David won the Keswick Prize for Lucidity for his paper "Homosexual Representation in the Broadway Musical: the development of homosexual identities and relationships from PATIENCE to RENT". Currently, he teaches Dramatic Arts at a high school in Cape Town and also freelances as a theatremaker and performer. |