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REVIEW of UNMASKING EVITA live streamed from CAPE TOWN  — AUGUST 2020

Review: Unmasking Evita, Women’s Day 2020

– Robyn Cohen, thecaperobyn.co.za, 11 August 2020

 • Available to watch as video-on-demand: Until Sunday August 16, 2020 at 6pm. Tickets may be purchased up until August 16.

 • Tickets: R70

 • Direct booking link: https://www.quicket.co.za/events/109655-pieter-dirk-uys-presents-unmasking-evita/?lc=44909226

 • Helpline: Penny Lane Studios WhatsApp 0720707592

Thanks to the incomparable Pieter-Dirk Uys for making me laugh, think, remember and be present with his show, Unmasking Evita.

Unmasking Evita is the Covid-19 edition of his show #HeToo which I was privileged to watch LIVE on stage at Theatre on the Bay, last August [2019].

So, you missed it in Cape Town and in Joburg and you missed the live stream on Sunday? No worries. The link is live and may be watched until Sunday — August 16.

In lockdown, one day tends to blur into another. People have kept meticulous lockdown diaries –- noting for example ways to circumvent the exercise embargo during hard lockdown. I have not kept a lockdown diary. It is through the digital stage -– theatre, comedy, music -– that I am able to mark out moments of being present in these mad and strange days. I remember watching Pieter-Dirk Uys doing his first lockdown show on the eve of Mandela Day 2020. He stood there, gazing out at the unseen audience, gathered from all over the world. It was his ode to Darling -– the community and the theatre Evita Se Perron that he established in the old railway station in this small country town. On Sunday, I watched PDU, present his Women’s Day Show. On September 24, I will be there watching him deliver his Heritage Day Show –- which also marks his 75th birthday.

In a year from now, hopefully this pandemic will be over and I will look back and think -– ‘oh my –- just think -– a year ago –- we sat in front of our screens and watched PDU and now we are back in the theatre.’

For now, we have the opportunity of communing in front of our screens with this great artist to jolt us to attention. That is what he has done throughout his career — encouraging us to laugh at our fears –- to laugh through our fears and confront those fears. Fear has become heightened during Covid. We are living in times, when the overload is making us hide and switch off as we deal with the unimaginable. How does one process the devastation on Beirut, in the aftermath of the explosion, last week? How does one deal with that landscape of destruction and the reports of over three hundred thousand made homeless? How does one deal with the despair in South Africa, homelessness, reports of corruption and general sense of bafflement? Switching off and tuning out is easier than engaging. Absence, perhaps takes the edge off, in the moment.

In his formidable career, PDU has reminded us that we must always be present and switched on and in to what is happening around us and to be tuned into the past as it impacts on the present and will certainly impact on the future. In Unmasking Evita,we are treated to the priceless archival footage from Evita Bezuidenhout’s four decades on the boards of stage and politics –- hanging out with Madiba and politicians, giving talks, accepting awards, interviewing politicians on her TV show Funigalore. The film footage, screened in #HeToo and screened again in Unmasking Evita, conjures up a sense of the old style African Mirror newsreel clips — watched at the bioscope — as a prelude to the main feature. These were the days before TV and Netflix. Our news was censored by the Apartheid regime but PDU got around the laws by speaking through Evita and other alter egos that he created — as well as through his impressions of real people.

As PDU has often said about Evita –- just because she is not real, it doesn’t mean that she does not exist. The thing about Evita is that from the start, she didn’t do irony. She still doesn’t. She is ten years older than Uys –- almost 85. She did not and does not smirk or cackle. She is glamorous and fabulous in her frocks but she is not there to get into chit-chat. I don’t see her doing WhatsApp. She is the clown -– makeup in place — jesting with us and jolting us awake.

Watch Unmasking Evita and you will see what I mean. Don’t miss this opportunity to see the iconic Pieter-Dirk Uys on the screen. The show is a synthesis of the fictive but very real life of Evita; Pieter-Dirk Uys as artist/satirist/activist -– and witness. He was there. We are here now, in the pandemic, in lockdown. Unmasking Evita brings together a potent mix of theatre, TV, film and digital stage.


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Archived Reviews


#HeTwo: Evita Exposed!