SHOW: Adapt Or Fly
One has come to expect a pattern from Pieter-Dirk Uys with his shows in recent years. There is no question they were successful artistic products, with Uys managing to connect with his target audience and perhaps even managing to expand their perceptions.
These personal and personable state of the nation addresses were a little too tempered at times though, as if the satirist went out of his way to balance the negative with the positive.
It’s as if he didn’t want his audience to leave on too much of a low.
There is no such pandering in ‘Adapt Or Fly’. The man is once again in incendiary form, perhaps because the stakes are higher this time around.
There is no mistaking the desperation of the message: South Africa needs to get its act together, rediscover its moral core or risk history making us its farcical bitch.
Uys appeared visibly nervous at the start on opening night and perhaps this is understandable, in hindsight at least: he was about to release some seriously nuclear truth bombs on the current political landscape, one that has in recent times become a fraught one for artists expressing their views on the political leadership in this country.
As ever, Uys is an equal opportunity lampooner, so as this is a thirty year anniversary of sorts of his first politically themed show, ‘Adapt Or Dye’, some of his old apartheid adversities come in for some fresh lashings, while current grotesques doing the headlines undergo similar treatment.
Uys is never better when he sends up the divisive figures of the past, perhaps because, as he himself admits, they are easy targets and it allows him to be as over the top as he wants. That’s not to say it is a form of self indulgence on his part. The writing is too tight for that to be the case, especially in his lampooning of Pik Botha and an especially vicious mockery of Piet Koornhof, both of which have to be seen to be believed.
These portrayals are exhilarating because of the connect that Uys wants to establish with the present. We are headed in the same direction, he suggests, if we are not mindful of our civic responsibilities of holding those in power accountable.
Of course not everyone is as brave as Uys is, but the way he riles one up, you might just believe you are. This is an artist that is still integral to our local cultural sphere, even at age 66, and I for one hope he never stops telling truth to power.
* Book at Computicket.
CAST: Pieter-Dirk Uys
VENUE: The Baxter Theatre until June 30
REVIEW: PETER TROMP