SHOW: The Chester Missing Roadshow
DIRECTOR: Heinrich Reisenhofer
With: Conrad Koch
Venue: Baxter Studio until Saturday
REVIEW: PETER TROMP
It says something about the level of our national political discourse that prominent members of government appear more comfortable interacting with a puppet than with real, live members of the media. Luckily Chester Missing is good value for all the high levels of access he enjoys to places like Luthuli House and with people like Blade Nzimande and Gwede Mantashe, who if they didn’t grant interviews with the highly vocal and critical puppet, one might not get to see them exhibiting any sign of having a sense of humour.
The fact that the puppet often gets them to laugh at themselves, or at least their public personas, is kind of reassuring in a way.
The puppet has become so famous for his fearless style of interviewing on ‘Late Nite News With Loyiso Gola’ that it has led to him being a headliner in his own right, hence ‘The Chester Missing Roadshow’. (It is commented upon in the show that his star now shines brighter than Koch’s, which is a nifty little joke.) So, having never seen a Conrad Koch show live, apart perhaps from when the artist has been part of a festival billing, I was curious to see how his specific brand of comedy translates on stage. Well the answer is quite well.
Koch still has to rely on a lot of the footage that he shot over the last year or so with Missing, so audiences who are overly familiar with the YouTube clips might feel a tad short-changed, but none of the puppet’s brio is lost in the live medium.
I would say however that the show is a little clumsy in how it progresses. I was expecting a bit more elegance in the way the different puppet segments led into one another, especially since this is a Heinrich Reisenhofer show and the director’s name has become synonymous with meticulously constructed productions.
The other puppets, although inventive creations in their own right, simply doesn’t stimulate one’s pleasure centre as much as Chester does, but perhaps it’s simply because he is such an absolutely brilliantly realised character.
Most people will just be happy to see the puppet live, and that already is more than enough testament to the genius of Koch’s creation.
* Book at Computicket.