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WHEN IN DOUBT

SAY DARLING

S

Pieter-Dirk Uys & the satire that keeps SA laughing

– Masego Panyane, The Star Tonight, 18 April 2018

 

Four decades worth of work is a great achievement. Pieter-Dirk Uys has reached the proverbial mountain top, and When in Doubt say Darling, is Uys telling his story as he wants to.

 

It’s a one-man show, and the stage is filled with box upon box, which happen to be the props — costumes, hair, hats, glasses and a newspaper featuring the day’s news that he has used over the years.

 

It felt awfully like a farewell show. Like Uys is using this show to retire. This was the first sobering moment for me; something that drove home the point that with all the deaths that have been around us, and shows like these, it is truly the end of the era.

 

When I had the chance to have a cup of tea with Uys, he explained where the title of the show had come from. And it’s a chuckle-worthy anecdote. Almost every single event in his life, whether on or off stage, has been in dazzling high definition colours, one wonders if along the way he’s had any ordinary experiences.

 

He’s clad in a black T-shirt, sweat pants and sneakers for a large chunk of the show, which enables him to do quick wardrobe changes on stage.

 

Of the many characters he has portrayed on his stage, there’s a select few who make it to this show, namely Jacob Zuma, PW Botha, Piet Koornhof and his alter ego, the most famous white woman in South Africa, and a member of the ANC in good standing, Evita Bezuidenhout.

 

En route to bringing out Evita, Angela Merkel and Theresa May pop up unexpectedly, and Uys delivers sharp impersonations of the two women.

 

In between the skits, Uys shares stories about his life in Darling.

 

I loved hearing about how the children of the town are getting to experience the arts and so many other things. The joy in this life he’s lived for the last 22 years is clearly evident in Uys’s voice when he talks about these experiences.

 

There is one small thing. In that audience, I was possibly one of the three younger people, with the majority of the audience being white men and women who are well over the age of 50. And the nostalgic laughter of the audience made me feel like I was peeking through the window while some senior citizens were reminiscing about the good ol’ days.

 

Some of the references required me to Google them for understanding. Which in all fairness, Uys warned would be the case. The other stuff was funny.

 

From the complexities of being a white man who satirises black politicians, to the irony of Piet Koornhof dating a coloured woman and the unbelievable tendencies of PW Botha, Uys packages these moments in a mixture of sketch and commentary.

 

A really touching sketch was about a man moving to a retirement village. I wondered if this was a reflection of Uys’s thoughts about growing old and retirement. You could also feel the energy in the room becoming a little more sombre.

 

If you know Uys, you probably have an opinion about his work. Love him or hate him, watching him on a stage is always an experience.

 

And who knows? This may just be the last one man show we get from him.  All the more reason to see it live.

 

Tickets are available from Computicket.

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Review: When In Doubt Say Darling

– Leon van Nierop, What’s on in Joburg, 9 April 2018

 

Reviewing a Pieter Dirk Uys-performance nowadays (especially for his fans) is like critiquing an annual Saturday evening dinner party at your best friends’ place. It stands to reason that you are going to enjoy it. You know what to expect, although there could be some inspiring detours into unpredicted terrain with new topics, which makes the evening even more exiting.

 

Enough to say that you will get everything from this show that you’re used to. But what makes it so agreeable and entertaining is presentation: so simple and uncomplicated, audiences just sink into their chairs and stay there for 80 minutes without being aware of how quickly the time passes. Uys keeps you riveted by simply chatting to you as if he’s known you for 40 years.

 

As so often before, Uys stands on stage and doesn’t move around a lot, so there are no ‘big show’ numbers or attempts to prettify the production. The power lies in his easy-going rapport with the audience (who all feel like his friends) as well as some new material that the regulars may not know. And for those in a nostalgic mood, there’s the chance to cackle at his impersonations of P.W. Botha, Piet Koornhof and his alter ego Evita Bezuidenhout.

 

The most heart-rendering sketch — the highlight of the show — sees an elderly man packing up his belongings to move to a retirement village while his old dog, Smelly, is watching him, probably near heaven’s door. The quiet sadness and melancholy memories are touching and counts among the best Uys has delivered in recent years. Angela Merkel and Theresa May also pop up unexpectedly and in quick, cutting and witty sketches, Uys comments on their recent utterings or appearances. (Merkel’s hair!)

 

When in Doubt, Say Darling helps you to smile (in my case it was a cruel grin) at what is happening in our country now and realising: it is your state of mind, your own sense of having fun, and finding the dark comedy and satire in many real-life situations that keeps us going. Strongly recommended. And when in doubt, just buy a ticket.

 

When in Doubt Say Darling is on at Montecasino’s Pieter Toerien Theatre until 22 April 2018.

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Pieter-Dirk Uys — a cultural gem

– Peter Feldman, Artslink, 5 April 2018

 

Pieter-Dirk Uys can best be described as the gift that keeps on giving.

 

This South African cultural gem returns to Jozi with a show, "When In Doubt Say Darling," crammed with memories, all of which he hauls out from a stage loaded with boxes.

 

He is not moving from the small town of Darling in the Swartland, but needs to get rid of some of his baggage. But as he digs through the various files and costumes, vivid images appear as he recounts an engaging story of his life in Darling and in theatre and what it has meant to him.

 

He describes the characters he met when establishing his little theatre there and how they impacted on his life; the barefoot boy who sang his heart out and the other little tyke who had never seen the sea.

 

A one-man artist who has perfected his craft, Uys has a wonderful rapport with his audience, punctuating his stories with some naughty asides and infectious laughter.

 

He re-visits a few of the politicians he has played since the 80s. Favourites such as PW Botha and Piet Koornhof (with the big ears) miraculously materialise before your eyes. A highlight of these impersonations is the skilful manner in which he morphs from PW to Jacob Zuma, with a costume change and rearranging his facial features.

 

He talks about his move to Darling, calling it "the best biggest mistake" he ever made. He has been in the town for 22 years and became something of a landmark — even having a street named after his famous alter ego, Evita Bezuidenhout.

 

Evita appears, too. She wouldn't want to miss this party and watching her come to life with make-up, an African print top and a wig raised the roof. His anecdotes about his meetings with Madiba (who loved Evita) and his relationship with the late Winnie Mandela add to the jigsaw of his life — one that has been well spent in contributing immeasurably to the South African theatrical landscape.

 

There is still plenty of life in this 'old' man and may he remain the satirical genius he has proven to be!

 

When In Doubt Say Darling is on at The Studio, Pieter Toerien Theatre, Montecasino, Fourways until 22 April.

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When in doubt say Darling

– Moira de Swardt, artscomments, 6 April 2018

 

I have been watching Pieter-Dirk Uys play his satirical roles as various South African politicians on both sides of the 1994 divide, South Africa’s most famous white woman — Evita Bezuidenhout, the lovely Bambi Kellerman, the intriguing Ouma Ossewania and many more, for more than forty years now. Although I am a little younger than he is, we’ve grown together.  I once lived next door to him in Melville, although I hardly ever saw him — he is fairly retiring in his personal life.

 

The last show of his at Montecasino, this time last year, was an autobiographical one, The Echo of a Noise. This one, When in Doubt Say Darling, is another autobiographical show.  He is clearing out his space in his home in Darling, Western Cape, and as he deals with the various props, he reminisces about his various productions.

 

Most of the older audience remember, with great fondness, each of the characters (and more) he takes props and memories out of his signature plastic crates.  I loved his take on “today’s news” as he looks at “polonialism” and Winnie Mandela who is possibly reuniting with Nelson — unless they have gone to different places.

 

Pieter-Dirk Uys has become a social campaigner over the years, for voter education, for HIV education and for social upliftment wherever he happens to be.  He recounts heart-warming tales of what he is experiencing as he interacts with the underprivileged youngsters from Darling.  This section alone is all new and wonderfully amusing without any satire.

 

Younger audience members assured me they didn’t feel alienated by not knowing who Piet Koornhof was, or not really remembering PW (or any other) Botha. It was almost as if they were stepping into history.  However, most of his audience has aged alongside him and we continue to love his shows even as we remember those days alongside him.

 

When in Doubt Say Darling runs at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino’s Studio Theatre (upstairs, no disabled access) until 22 April 2018. Tickets from Computicket.

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Uys is Suid-Afrika se eie kisduiweltjie

– Laetitia Pople, Die Burger, 31 March 2018

 

Die woorde “afskeid” en “vertrek” is presies só gerangskik deur die ontslape skrywer Karel Schoeman, dit vervat bykans als wat die mens hier op die ondermaanse hetsy fisiek of emosioneel ontwortel. Hierdie woorde kry nuwe beslag in die vertoning Weifel oor jou twyfel (When in doubt say darling) van die satirikus Pieter-Dirk Uys. Hier takel hy eietydse sake, soos die vlugtelingkrisis, Brexit, haat-spraak en die ondermyning van die demokrasie, maar grawe ook uit ’n magdom van dose op die verhoog ’n paar apartheidspoke. Dit is tyd om ’n paar te groet en agter te laat — dit is vir baie van sy karakters, soos die bejaarde man, tyd om ’n nuwe huis, dalk sy laaste op die aarde, te betrek. Besin Uys oor sy eie uittrede hier?

 

Uys werk altyd met humor, diep insig en deernis, sonder om doekies om te draai. Die stapel dose op die verhoog bevat sy verhooglewe van meer as vier dekades. Soos hy sorteer, dink hy hardop oor die pad en die karakters wat hom in ons 24-jarige demokrasie die nuwe bestel ingedra het. Dit word ’n voëlvlug van ons geskiedenis. “Ons vergeet byvoorbeeld maklik 30 jaar gelede was Oudtshoorn ook nat (Nat)”, word daar skalks opgemerk ná die milde reënbuie op dié Karoodorp.

 

Hy sê as die nuwe wette oor haat-spraak op die wetboeke is, hy nie meer sou kon werk nie — sou hy selfs hierdie vertoning nie mog lewer nie. Woorde is woorde, dit is nie wapens nie, benadruk hy. Oor die afgelope twee dekades het baie mense — veral die bornfrees — hom in ’n blik probeer druk; hy mog byvoorbeeld nie Zuma speel nie, want hy is wit, hy moet liefs die mond gesnoer hou oor dit of dat. Mense vergeet dat Uys ’n kisduiweltjie is — hy spring uit, koggel en tart soos klokslag.

 

Uys bly by sy land en sy mense. Hy bly vlymskerp en eietyds. Hy raak die hartsnare met sy vertolking van ’n bejaarde en sy hond, Smelly, wat na ’n aftreeoord moet gaan. Sy hond mag saam, want nie een van die twee gaan lank daar wees nie. Hy omvorm P.W. Botha met ’n paar kostuumwisselinge in Zuma en “hie-hie” die hele pad hof toe of Dubai toe. Hy toor Angela Merkel, Theresa May, Nelson Mandela op en Evita Bezuidenhout kom loer ook in. Dit is veral die skets oor ’n vlugteling wat by die doeane vasval wat diep sny en raakvat. Ook die bejaarde vrou van die BoKaap wat by haar kinders in Londen gaan kuier – en so duidelik haar midde in ’n swendelary bevind met die aankoop van haar visum.

 

Uys besiel opnuut, want hy is ingeploeg hier en die moue is opgerol. Hy is nog lank nie klaar met sy geliefde land en sy mense nie.

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Language and culture no barrier for this year’s Klein Karoo arts festival

– Steyn du Toit, Business Day, 30 March 2018

    ......

 

Another piece featuring a stage legend is Pieter-Dirk Uys’s new one-man production, Weifel Oor Jou Twyfel/When In Doubt Say Darling. After four decades of ruling the industry, the show sees the beloved satirist rummaging through his attic and storage cupboards.

 

What tumbles out of these closets includes costumes, wigs and, most excitingly, a few brand new characters. Providing both commentary on the past 24 years of us being a democracy, as well as observing South Africans in all our wackiness, don’t be surprised if Uys eventually outlives us all.

    ......

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Charming, chilling and confrontational Mr Uys

At the age of 72, SA’s leading satirist has a new one-man show

– Diane de Beer, Business Day, 27 March 2018

 

The wonderful thing about Pieter-Dirk Uys is his maturity, the way he keeps his eye on the future as he confronts, charms and sometimes chills people with his stories about the past and present.

 

"The age of 72 is a very specific place to be," he says. "You can see your sell-by date. The audition is also over. The disease to please has been cured. You don’t have to prove anything; just improve.

 

"To quote from [a previous show] The Echo of a Noise: sort out your legacy. Make sure you flush before you go."

 

That’s exactly what he is doing with Weifel oor Jy Twyfel: When in Doubt say Darling, which plays at the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival followed by a season at Montecasino’s Pieter Toerien Theatre.

 

"The stage setting is an area filled with cardboard boxes, crates and black bags. Packing-up time. After 40 years I have a collection of props, costumes, wigs, eyelashes, hats and Koornhof masks among old Nat emblems. The show is about sorting out, and reinventing," Uys says.

 

"Out of a box comes a prop. I give it a place in our history, and then it also becomes the centre of a new sketch, character, issue. I also weave throughout stories about my d-word: darling.

 

"And living in Darling: the kids, the community, the hope, the humour and the reality that if we do not look after our communities, the country will dissolve," Uys says.

 

"There is too much focus on government as a superman; government is the essential toilet paper to help us clean up and move on!"

 

As always, this show started with the title. Uys drew inspiration from 1968, when he was the only member of staff in Capab’s public relations department brave enough to deal with Taubie Kushlick, who arrived to direct The Lion in Winter.

 

"Pietertjie darling, she called me, and I was at her bek se call!" he recalls.

 

"Instinctively, I knew how to handle her demands and maybe that was the beginning of the rest of my life as a one-man band. PR is essential. Diplomacy is a foundation to negotiation. When I kissed her goodbye, I said: ‘Mrs Kushlick, you call everyone darling. You must call your autobiography When in Doubt say Darling’.

 

"She looked at me as if I had coughed. Didn’t get it. Didn’t use it. Now I use it!"

 

He understands he has a broader horizon behind him than ahead and he dusts off old targets to remind audiences that bad politics easily reinvents itself as a democratic solution.

 

"In this new show I even do Piet Koornhof in a sketch from 1984 with his focus on illegal blacks, and then reinvent him in the same voice as an officer at Heathrow Airport, sorting out refugees and illegals who want to get into the UK — not unlike what we did in the old days of apartheid," Uys says.

 

"Yes, it is a full English Brexit. I am moving from the brittle political reflections. Let the younger generation sort out their future. I am in my future."

 

Uys still has the discipline and energy to tour with three 70-minute solo shows in his car. "I also treasure my independence. I have no staff: I am my own stage manager, writer, director, performer, driver, publicist and sometimes my own worst enemy," he says.

 

His shows are all about the audiences. He wants to make a difference to their views. He offers audiences an opportunity to laugh at their fears, to confront fear, to understand it and prevent it from winning.

 

"There is no time for knock-knock jokes. The reality of the absurdity around the obscenity of daily life is enough to fill 70 minutes. And then someone leaves my theatre and realises that they have laughed at something they didn’t even dare to think about."

 

He points out that SA has again teetered on the edge of a cliff, only to see "the Ramaphosa wind gush up and level the playing field.

 

"We must stop blindly believing that things will get better. They won’t. What you see is what we’ve got. Just make sure things don’t get worse."

 

Instead of watching the world, he suggests people look in the mirror and ask strangers what their next move should be.

 

"Courage, honesty, compassion, healthy anger, information, respect and maybe a talent to amuse," are his keys to success.

 

Weifel oor Jy Twyfel: When in Doubt say Darling plays at the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival on March 29 and 30, followed by a season at Montecasino’s Pieter Toerien Theatre from April 4 to 22.

 

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Pieter Dirk Uys Aims to Reboot Live Theatre with When In Doubt Say Darling

It’s show time and Pieter Dirk Uys is on the march as he opens his latest show at the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival followed with a season of the same show — albeit with a switch of languages from Afrikaans to English — with a stated mission: Live theatre has slipped down to the bottom of page 5 of everyone’s priorities. Let us reboot it back to page one! He speaks to Diane De Beer about this time of performance.

– Diane De Beer, De Beer Necessities, 25 March 2018

 

The wonderful thing about artist Pieter Dirk Uys is his maturity, the way he is looks back yet keep his eye on the future as he confronts, charms and sometimes chills us with his stories about our past, present and what to expect in years to come.

 

“The age of 72 is a very specific place to be,” he says. “You can see your sell-by date. The audition is also over. The disease to please has been cured. You don’t have to prove anything; just improve. To quote from (a previous show) The Echo of a Noise: sort out your legacy. Make sure you flush before you go.”

 

That’s exactly what he is doing with Weifel oor Jy Twyfel: When in Doubt say Darling which plays at the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival on March 29 and 30 followed by a season at Montecasino’s Pieter Toerien Theatre from April 4 to 22.

 

“The stage setting is an area filled with cardboard boxes, crates and black bags. Packing-up time. After 40 years I have a collection of props, costumes, wigs, eyelashes, hats and Koornhof masks among old Nat emblems. The show is about sorting out, and reinventing.

 

“Out of a box comes a prop. I give it a place in our history, and then it also becomes the centre of a new sketch, character, issue. I also weave throughout stories about my d—word: darling. And living in Darling: the kids, the community, the hope, the humour and the reality that if we do not look after our communities, the country will dissolve.

 

“Too much focus on government as a superman; no, government is the essential toilet paper to help us clean up and move on!”

 

As always, this one also started with the title which began in 1968 when he was the only one in CAPAB’s PR department brave enough to deal with Taubie Kushlick who was arriving to direct The Lion in Winter.

 

Pietertjie-darling, she called me, and I was at her bek se call! Instinctively I knew how to handle her demands and maybe that was the beginning of the rest of my life as a one-man band. PR is essential. Diplomacy is a foundation to negotiation. When I kissed her goodbye, I said: ‘Mrs Kushlick, you call everyone darling.’ ‘Yes, darling?’ she asked. I said: ‘You must call your autobiography When in doubt say darlng.’ She looked at me as if I had coughed. Didn’t get it. Didn’t use it. Now I use it!”

 

Proof again, that his way of thinking is instinctive and is always there — in the early days as much as it is now. But now, many decades on, he can reach back and recycle the past while reinventing the future.

 

He understands that he has a broader horizon behind him than ahead and that’s why he dusts off those targets to remind audiences that bad politics easily reinvents itself as a democratic solution.

 

“In this new show I even do Piet Koornhof in a sketch from 1984 with his focus on illegal blacks, and then reinvent him in the same voice as an officer at Heathrow Airport, sorting out refugees and illegals who want to get into the UK — not unlike what we did in the old days of apartheid.

 

“Yes, it is a full English Brexit. I am moving away from the brittle political reflections. Let the younger generation sort out their future. I am already in my future!”

 

And as he points to his future, he also gives credit to his health. “If you can do it, get on with it. And so far, touch wood and stroke kitty, I still have the discipline and energy to tour with three 70-minute solo shows in the boot of my car. I also treasure my independence. I have no staff: I am my own stage manager, writer, director, performer (he or she) driver, publicist and sometimes my own worst enemy.”

 

“All you need to do is speak clearly and not bump into the furniture.”

 

His shows are all about the audience. He wants to make a difference to their view of life and their belief in themselves. No small task!

 

It’s about laughing at your fear, confronting fear, giving it a name, understanding its lethal ability but never allowing it to win, he explains. “There is no time for knock-knock jokes. The reality of the absurdity around the obscenity of daily life is enough to fill 70 minutes. And then someone leaves my theatre and realises that they have laughed at something they don’t even dare think about.”

 

He points out that we have just again teetered on the edge of a cliff only to see “the Ramaphosa wind gush up and level the playing field. We must stop blindly believing that things will get better. They won’t.  What you see is what we’ve got. Just make sure things don’t get worse.”

 

Instead of watching the world, he suggests we look in the mirror and ask the stranger his/her next move.

 

“Courage, honesty, compassion, healthy anger, information, respect and maybe a talent to amuse,” are his keys to success.

 

But not just any old talent. It is one that he has kept shining for more than half a century — and now sparkles more brightly than ever.

 

PS: ‘Evita’s Free Speech’ on You Tube every Sunday is now in Episode 132!  On Daily Maverick on Mondays. She has 140,000 on @TannieEvita.

 

* KKNK: Thursday and Friday (March 29 and 30) at 6pm at Oudtshoorn Civic Centre

 

* Pieter Toerien Theatre, Montecasino: (April 4 to 22); Wednesday to Friday at 8pm, Saturdays at 4pm and Sundays 3pm.

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When In Doubt Say Darling:  An entertainment with Pieter-Dirk Uys and other darlings

 

A new show about forgetting, forgiving, remembering, faking, making up and doing.

 

Sometimes politics repeats itself, not only taking history and turning it into farce, but taking farce and turning into the fake news that is now called entertainment.

 

Pieter-Dirk Uys is sorting out 40 years of distress, disguise and disgust: from apartheid to tripartite, from amandla to Nkandla. Wigs, glasses, wagging fingers, toyi-toyis, red berets, trump cards of madness, icons and aikonas. From Bezuidenhouts, Raubenheimers and Ramaphosas to Alzheimers.

 

At a time when a casual greeting or embrace can be seen as racist or harassment, the advice is simple: when in doubt say darling.

 

   •  If you can’t remember their names, just say darling.

   •  If you get lost along the road to somewhere, simply ask for Darling.

   •  He did it, and now Pieter-Dirk Uys also lives in Darling.

 

Join him and many darlings on an exciting walk to the edge of the next cliff when the end of the world seems nigh.  It used to be called a sunset. Here’s a secret: the sun will also rise tomorrow, darling.