Theatre Review: When in Doubt, Say Darling with Pieter-Dirk Uys
Cary Gee finds that South African drag queen Pieter Dirk-Uys is a compelling and
politically-charged master storyteller
– Cary Gee, Pridelife Magazine, 16 May 2019
Writer, actor, satirist, impressionist, anti-apartheid hero, drag queen and the “most
famous white woman in South Africa”, Pieter-Dirk Uys wears many hats, both literally
and figuratively in his latest outing.
Some are worn purely for decorative purposes, others are donned to expose the “mock
in democracy”, or to inhabit one of the many characters that have contributed to
his legend, during a 50-year career as thorn in the side of the South African government,
regardless of its colour.
In the era of political correctness and the Me Too movement When in Doubt, Say Darling
is an exercise in housekeeping. Uys takes his broom and sweepsaway any veneer of
respectability that has settled beneath the political umbra.
Whether comparing the divisions of Brexit to the segregation of apartheid South Africa,
and, by extension, Nigel Farage, to the old white men that ruled his home nation,
or declaring the current ANC government, that is being renewed in a general election
that is taking place as he speaks, as the “best that money can buy”, Uys’ satire
has lost none of its muscularity. That his spleen erupts with the politeness of a
middle-class Jo’burg hostess simply adds veracity to his never-less-than-compelling
narrative. Uys remains a master story teller, a tribute to his outstanding skills
as both dramatist and actor.
Fearing that it is no longer OK for a white man to impersonate a black man Uys circumnavigates
his dilemma by “impersonating apartheid leader PW Botha impersonating ANC leader
Jacob Zuma”. It’s a stroke of genius that allows him to deflate two monstrously corrupt
egos at the same time. “I used to need make-up to do Botha. Now I actually look like
the old bugger,” rues Uys, now 73, as he slips into character.
But it is when adopting one of the many female alter-egos that made Uys one of the
most famous and politically-challenging drag queens that Uys’ luminosity really shines.
New character, Mrs Peterson, a mixed-race Muslim woman, dons her headscarf and worries
about a forthcoming trip to London, to visit her son and see the “Trooping of the
Coloureds”, while a Jewish princess would rather remain in South Africa “and be murdered
in her own bed, than have to get up and make it herself”.
But it is social-climbing (and now paid-up member of the ANC ) Evita Bezuidenhout
whom many here this evening have come to see, and after Uys delivers a masterclass
in wearing false eye lashes, while repeatedly metamorphosing into the “wrong white
woman”, first Angela Merkel, then Thatcher/ May the transformation into Nelson Mandela’s
“beard” and second wife is complete. So too is Uys’s remarkable journey from a young
man “who doesn’t do women” into one of the world’s most humane raconteurs.
“Never underestimate the people we laugh at,” he warns. There’s little chance of
underestimating our host this evening.
When in Doubt, Say Darling is at the Soho Theatre in London until 25 May
Pieter-Dirk Uys returns to London to walk through the minefield of hashtags and hate
The legendary South African satirist is back in London.
– Caryn Edwards, The South African, 18 April 2019
In this era of #MeToo and political correctness, can calling someone ‘darling’ be
seen as sexual harassment? Should an actor who is not black impersonate a character
who is not white? Is a male performer allowed to dress up as a woman?
When In Doubt Say Darling
These are the questions at the heart of Uys’ new show When In Doubt Say Darling,
playing at London’s Soho Theatre between Monday 6th and Saturday 25th May.
“I’m waiting for the day someone will say to me: ‘Pieter-Dirk Uys! You can’t
do women! It’s politically incorrect’” says Uys, from his home in the aptly named
Darling in the Western Cape.
“For the last 40 years, it’s been part of my job to impersonate males, females
and convertibles. It’s called acting. Now my characters and I find ourselves in the
2019 minefield of hashtags and hate speech. May I wear the the#MeToo button on Evita
Bezuidenhout’s blouse? Next to her ANC badge? Or on her ANCWL Gucci jacket?”
After decades of challenging the most controversial topics head-on (normally with
that head donning a wig and belonging to his most famous alter-ego, the boere tannie
Evita Bezuidenhout), Pieter-Dirk is having to come to terms with making work where
the courts of Apartheid South Africa have been swapped for the court of public opinion
on Twitter and beyond.
Having performed all over the world, made friends with Nelson Mandela, and established
her own political party Evita’s People’s Party (EPP), Mrs Bezuidenhout and Uys are
looking to the future.
“Evita is now 83. Will she retire? Will I retire? If the public interest diminishes,
then we might both ride off into the sunset. But there is much to do in the next
few months. The 2019 General Election will take place on 8 May, with the 9 May being
the first day of the rest of our lives.
“Comrade Evita would be the first person to demand an end to my politically-incorrect,
sexist exploitation of her. I will reflect all that in a future show where the tannie
and I will appear on stage together and at the same. The title should say it all:
“Before that, however, she will be at Soho Theatre in London sharing the chorus
line with PW Botha, Jacob Zuma, Angela Merkel and Theresa May, among others. Yes.
When in doubt, say darling!”
Details of the show
Public interest certainly hasn’t shown signs of diminishing yet and with that cast
of extras, When In Doubt Say Darling is set to be one of the hottest tickets in town.
Tickets start from as little as £11 for the run that must end Saturday 25 May.
Don’t miss this chance to see Uys once again expose the ‘mock’ in democracy and highlight
the ‘con’ in reconciliation.
When in Doubt Say Darling: A closet full of treasures
– Steve Kretzmann, The Critter, 28 November 2018
Getting old is not for sissies. Although Pieter-Dirk Uys has most likely been called
a sissy in his lifetime, and many other things by the politicians he has spent a
career brilliantly satirising, his latest show proves, once again, he has a bellyfull
He also has a full belly, as befits a healthy man of 73, which he neatly covers with
a favourite black waistcoat as he presents his latest one-man show, When in Doubt
Say Darling, amidst a jumble of crates (from Darling dairy of course) and Take-a-Lot
cardboard boxes. Which is ironic because Pieter has given a lot and taken little
during his 40-plus years of performance. He gave us a way to deal with our anger
and fear as the vicious and brutal apartheid rulers crushed our country beneath their
inhumane racism and narrow-minded conservatism. He did so by revealing their pettiness
and stupidity, and holding them up to the ridicule they so deserved. In doing so
he helped ease our fear and spurred us on the path of civil disobedience.
The Nelson Mandela presidency saw him struggling for traction, because how do you
ridicule Madiba. But then along came Thabo Mbeki and his Aids denialism, with Manto
Tshabalala Msimang in tow. Pieter took to the stage on behalf of the hundreds of
thousands of South Africans denied lifesaving anti-retroviral drugs and lambasted
that short little man with his pipe, his Shakespeare, and his deadly disregard for
science. And then, of course, came the trump card: Jacob Zuma.
Pieter regales us with these career recollections in a show which is part autobiography,
part self-reflection, and part nostalgia, bearing in mind South African nostalgia
is about three parts bitter to one part sweet. For many, there is no nostalgia, only
memory, and the fact the audience in the Fugard Studio theatre was 99% white despite
1994 having happened 24 years ago, is a reminder of that.
But Pieter is well aware of our diverse experiences. Also, being both an Afrikaaner
and a Jew, he knows how to make a little bit of sweet stretch a long way so that
the medicine can go down. He does it so well that you only realise you’ve gulped
it down after the fact. The bitter pill we gleefully digest here amidst the innocuous
ruminations on growing old and downsizing and memories of renovating a crumbling
Victorian house full of snakes when he perchance moved to Darling, is the hate speech
and violent rhetoric of the EFF, as well as the dangerous shut down of public debate
and freedom of expression by a new generation of self-righteous, hashtag-brandishing,
censorious youth. The truth of which is weird, because usually it is the youth who
break the calcified conservatism of the older generation, not the other way round.
Pieter, for instance, has come under fire by the social media generation for impersonating
a black man -– Zuma. Ingeniously, he gets around this in ‘Darling by impersonating
PW Botha impersonating Zuma. But then, true to form, he defies his censorious critics
by donning a doek and impersonating a coloured Muslim aunty from the Bo-Kaap.
In between putting on a hat and tie here and a doek there and a fake leopard skin
where-ever, he just chats to us. Or at least it feels like he chats to us — it’s
easy to forget he’s a consummate actor — telling stories about people he’s met, things
he’s done. He becomes most vulnerable when, without warning or preamble, morphs into
a forgetful geezer packing up home for a two-roomed (bathroom and bedroom) downsize.
For a little while it is unclear whether this is a new character or if Pieter is
still acting as Pieter. Then it becomes clear: it is Pieter acting as an old geezer
in the country acting as Pieter acting as an old geezer. It goes around to him, standing
there amidst a jumble of boxes, lost in memories that fold in on themselves.
If this is old age, he’s certainly no sissy. In fact, he’ll even give you a free
lesson on how to put fake eyelashes on in the men’s toilets without poking your eye
When in Doubt Say Darling is back at the Fugard Studio Theatre until 15 December.
Cape Town – His 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.
Pieter-Dirk Uys followed his own advice and has been living and working in the West
Coast town of Darling since 1996.
Uys, 73, staged his latest show, When in doubt say darling, in August at the Fugard
Theatre and will bring it back for a second run this month.
The man best known for portraying Tannie Evita Bezuidenhout unpacks the last 40 years,
discussing the current political zeitgeist and tackling some of the most controversial
topics in recent times from red berets to Trump.
“Every night is a new night and the content has to adapt. August was the end of the
drought for Cape Town and in taking the show around the country there were other
elements that had to be discussed,” he said.
The show features multiple characters including some new ones, while his most famous
character, Tannie Evita, also makes an appearance.
“Of course I have to include her because otherwise people will ask. She has some
good advice for land expropriation: when they come to take your house, just open
the door wearing a red beret and say, ‘I was here first’,” laughed Uys.
The satirist gave his stamp of approval for the job Cyril Ramaphosa was doing as
president, and described former Cape Town mayor, Patricia de Lille, as a “warrior
Uys also offers his thoughts on international politics. “The big questions for Trump
is who will be able to face him in the 2020 election and there’s only one person,
Oprah Winfrey. I really mean that because she’s the only person who can operate in
the same sphere as him,” he said.
Uys said in the minefield of hashtags and political correctness he had faced push-back,
and could face further rebukes in the future.
“Already there has been this thing where people have said to me I can’t do people
of colour, which I disagree with, but I’ve said fine, I’ll do Jacob Zuma, but as
PW Botha, so I do it my way.
“The danger of political correctness is it lets people off the hook because people
can label you as a racist. I’ve had some corporate clients who have said to me you
might offend our black clients, to which I’ve said don’t worry, I’ll offend the Jewish
Uys first transformed into Tannie Evita by writing newspaper columns during apartheid,
sharply criticising the National Party government through humour and satire.
He later put on a wig and make-up and began performing as the white Afrikaner socialite
and self-proclaimed political activist. This led him to meet former president Nelson
Mandela and after the first democratic elections in 1994 he interviewed Mandela for
the TV series Funigalore.
“There are people who will say I shouldn’t be playing a woman but now that I’ve seen
my sell-by date there’s still so much I want to get done, and something I’ve never
done before is to do a show where Evita and I are up on stage together at the same
time,” said Uys.
The show, #HeTwo, will debut next year and will see Tannie Evita confront Uys directly
on these issues, he said.
When he’s not on stage, Uys is touring the country, going to as many schools as he
can to educate children on HIV and Aids, and what democracy and the vote means.
When in doubt say darling runs from Tuesday to December 15 at the Fugard Studio Theatre.
– Estelle Sinkins, Weekend Witness, 3 November 2018
FOR some 40 years, Pieter-Dirk Uys has been confronting South African audiences with
the stark reality of life in this country.
Under apartheid he challenged the National Party's racist policies and made fun of
its leaders, from Hendrik Verwoed to F.W. de Klerk, and, since the 1994 elections
has not allowed political correctness to get in the way of holding the likes of Jacob
Zuma and Julius Malema to account.
In his latest show, When in Doubt, Say Darling!, a few well-known faces make an appearance
and are suitably skewered by the satirist. But there is so much more offered by the
now 70-year-old performer.
The show includes stories of how he came to live in Darling in the Western Cape,
how Tannie Evita came into being, and the joy he gets from helping children in his
home town through the Darling Trust.
He puts the personal elements of When in Doubt, Say Darling! down to a new-found
confidence to be himself on stage.
"It had a lot to do with the extraordinary reaction I had with The Echo of Noise,"
In that production he offered the audience a look at his life and his relationships
with his parents Hannes Uys and Helga Bassel, and his sister, Tessa.
"I discovered that I could sit on a barstool for 90 minutes and tell a story."
I've always done these short little bursts about people and used them as shields
and now, suddenly, I have the confidence to take a chance ...
"It's also age. I think when you get to a certain age the disease to please has been
cured. The audition is over. I really don't care if people don't like what I talk
about. They can watch Game of Thrones [instead].
"Uys is also finding the climate in the country more tricky to negotiate, admitting
that younger audiences don't want an ageing white man to portray black people.
"The redline of racism is so close to the edge of my shoe and I don't want to step
over it. I don't even want to do accents and things like that.
"The old tribe was my tribe and it was okay for me to make fun of it, but now it's
white mouth against black action ... the environment has changed," he adds.
Not that it stops him from taking a satirical swipe at the likes of Jacob Zuma. He
simply approaches it from a different angle.
It's fascinating to watch him dressed as finger-waggling P.W. Botha, complete with
old National Party rosette, morph slowly into Zuma with just a few subtle costume
changes, facial expressions and mannerisms.
He also confronts the audience with the challenge of being an older person in SA,
creating an elderly white man who is leaving his home and trying to choose what he
will take with him.
It's a poignant vignette because for the character every object holds a memory, and
in every box there are a host of life experiences.
He contrasts this with the vulnerability of the older generation to the machinations
of con artists as he plays the role of an elderly Muslim woman from the Bo-Kaap,
who is struggling to fill out a visa application to visit her family in Britain,
and is grateful when a young Nigerian man offers to "help" her.
Uys also reveals how he came to live in Darling, explaining that he stopped in the
town when he got lost on the way to MacGregor.
While waiting to eat a tasty schnitzel at the local German restaurant, he bumped
into an estate agent who showed him round.
Her tour included a stop at a dilapidated Victorian house, which came complete with
a family of cobras under the floorboards.
A few hours later he drove out of Darling having made an offer to buy the house.
Back home in Cape Town he started to have second thoughts and a few days later drove
back to tell the agent he’d changed his mind.
He stopped to look at the house one last time and was approached by a young man who
said he’d heard that Uys had bought it and that he had done restoration work on Victorian
houses in the United Kingdom and wanted to help him restore it.
“It was fate,” he says. “I might not be living there if we hadn’t met.”
Uys later took over the Darling Station and created the now famous Evita se Perron,
a cabaret theatre where you have a great chance of bumping into Tannie Evita herself.
He's also deeply involved in the projects in the local community through the Darling
Trust, which offers early childhood development, music and art classes and facilitates
skills development and employment opportunities for young men and women.
Uys shares some of the stories of his kinders with the audience in When inDoubt,
Say Darling!, and speaking to him, his passion and delight in helping children brings
a smile to his face off-stage too.
"Talking about children crosses all the lines because everyone wants things to be
good for children," he says.
"It immediately makes people believe in something optimistic as opposed to this huge
cloud that hangs over every conversation.
"There is nothing you can do about the headlines, but there are things that we can
do with our families, our neighbours, our communities ..."
Uys feels lucky to have had such a long career, adding that being successful reminds
him that what he's done strikes a chord with people.
But he also admits that when he's not working he loves nothing more than being at
home where he can sit on the sofa and cuddle his cats.
And no, he doesn't plan to stop working, saying: "People are always telling me to
slow down, but it's hard ... there is still so much to do."
When in Doubt, Say Darling! is at the Hexagon Theatre in Pietermaritzburg on November
6 and 7 and at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre in Durban from November 8 to 11.
Booking for the Maritzburg shows at www.webtickets.co.za and with Computicket to
see Uys in Durban.
– Estelle Sinkins, Weekend Witness, 3 November 2018
PIETER-DIRK Uys is proud to describe himself as coloured.
The veteran satirist discovered, following the publication of Group Without Boundaries,
written by Hans Heese (an Afrikaner academic in the mid-eighties), that his family
has a smattering of black blood in it.
"When that book came out, oh the drama!," he says, adding that his dad, Hannes, was
outraged at the very thought of a black ancestor.
"I phoned the university where he worked and spoke to the secretary of this Dr Heese.
I said: 'Mevrou dis Pieter-Dirk Uys hier', and she said, 'Asseblief Meneer Uys, moenie
moeilikheid for ons maak'.
"I said I didn't want to make moeilikheid, I just wanted to know why the Uys name
wasn't in the book. I said to her,'Is ons puur, sekerlik nee?'"
The secretary revealed that the family hadn't been included because Heese couldn't
get definitive proof, but there was a definite possibility that he had a black ancestor.
"It turns out that my Ouma Grootjie plied her trade on the road between Cape Town
and Paarl, and her name was Wilhemina Opklim. Isn't it wonderful?" he said.
"I went to my father and told him the story, and he made me promise not to tell anyone.
I promised him I wouldn't but I didn't keep it. I've been telling everybody I'm coloured,"
Uys drew on his discovery for a skit in When in Doubt, Say Darling! in which Evita
is advised to look into her family tree for a black ancestor to save the Bezuidenhout
farm from being expropriated.
The veteran satirist makesapointofvisitingschoolsandcommunitycentresaroundthecountrytotalktoyoungpeopleandtoencouragethemtovote.Headmits,however,thatgettingthemessagecanbehard,adding:“Politicsimpactsoneverything—education,healthcare,electricity,roads,fuel—butyouhavetomake itpersonaltoeachpersontomakeanimpact.
You daren’t lose focus for a minute or you might miss a hilarious aside or sarcastic
crack at a politician!
– Caroline Smart, Artsmart, 3 November 2018
Pieter-Dirk Uys is back in town! What a pleasure! This time with his latest show,
When in Doubt, Say Darling.
The title has been in his mind for about 40 years since he worked with one of South
Africa’s legendary theatre figures, Taubie Kushlick, who called everyone “Darling”.
He expands this by saying that the older one gets, the more difficult it is to remember
names! So just call people “darling” instead.
This leads to the fascinating and highly amusing story of how he went to live in
Darling in the Cape. He ended up in the town, having lost his way en route to McGregor
and fell in love with a total wreck of a Victoria house. He bought it and eventually
created his cabaret theatre and restaurant, Evita se Peron, in the old railway station
and this is now one of the tourist attractions in the area.
The set comprises a jumbled collection of cardboard boxes and beer crates. The show
is described as being about “forgetting, forgiving, remembering, faking, making-up
and doing.” As it progresses, we delight in meeting again his unforgettable characterisations
of former State President PW Botha and politician Piet Koornhof as well as former
President Jacob Zuma.
At one stage, the boxes represent the belongings of an old man who is having to move
from his spacious home to two-rooms in an old age home. In this beautifully poignant
section, Uys has a chance to focus on the SPCA, a charity which is very close to
his heart, encouraging audiences to donate money or belongings that are no longer
Another unforgettable section deals with his community work for the children of the
township area surrounding Darling, exposing them to new experiences like ice-cream
parlours, a movie house … and the sea!
Uys deals with many issues that are confronting communities at all levels in South
Africa at the moment. It’s rapid fire delivery — you daren’t lose focus for a minute
or you might miss a hilarious aside or sarcastic crack at a politician! Over the
years, I believe the general public has learnt more about South Africa’s political
scene through Uys and his no-holds-barred eye-openers than they have through the
Obviously, the audience eagerly awaits the appearance of the famous Evita Bezuidenhout
and Uys does this transformation very cleverly. While putting on her make-up, he
occasionally dons different wigs and we meet British Prime Minister, Theresa May;
Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, along with Noelle Fine (a long-time Uys character),
eventually triumphing as Evita, false eyelashes and all!
Evita has the last word as she urges people to fight the land reformation issues
by searching into their own origins!
The show, which lasts for an hour and 20 minutes without interval, had sold-out seasons
at Pieter Toerien's Montecasino Studio and the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town — so don’t
miss it here in KZN! Uys deserves all the support we can give him — not just for
being an extraordinary performer but for being one with a huge heart.
When in Doubt, Say Darling has another performance tomorrow in the Elizabeth Sneddon
Theatre at 15h00 and again from November 8 to 10 at 19h30 and on November 11 at 15h00.
During the week, Uys moves up to the Hexagon Theatre in Pietermaritzburg for performances
on November 6 and 7. Booking is through Computicket.
PIETER-DIRK Uys’s audiences invariably know what to expect from the now-73-year-old
South African treasure who has travelled far and wide, for many years, with countless
The celebrated performer, playwright, producer, author and passionate promoter of
Aids education has built up such a rapport over his four decades in entertainment
that in more recent years he comes across on stage more like a charismatic, chatty,
colourful old friend rather than the theatre legend and master satirist he is.
We expect from him the dusting down and new airings of former political sacred cows
and tarnished icons, both old and more recent. We expect a spot of drag, dark humour
and much food for thought amongst the satire, broader comedy, knowing nods and witty
However, the appeal of an Uys show lies not only in revisiting old chestnuts, which
never fail to raise laughter and applause, often while also pushing buttons. The
joy is that one always expects, and usually gets, a surprise or two among the familiar,
tried and tested.
When in Doubt, Say Darling! , latest in the long line-up of solo productions by the
writer-performer — who should alone get a lifetime achievement award for his clever
show titles — again offers something old, something new, something borrowed and,
yes, even something blue.
Once again Uys is alone on stage, in his costumary black trousers and shirt, this
time on a raised platform containing cardboard boxes, some closed and some open,
as well as plastic crates with various odds and ends.
The scenario suggests, with an air of pathos, that Uys might be in the process of
decluttering, perhaps thinking of moving on, as he sorts through distant memories
and old souvenirs of a colourful past and a stellar career.
The suggestion is never more poignantly emphasised than when, later in the show,
Uys takes on the character of an elderly, lonely man who goes through the faded remnants
of his past while seeking his only real companion, his unseen old dog, Smelly.
Another standout moment features Mrs Peterson, the amusing coloured woman that Uys
hauls out for a sketch that blends humour with a tinge of sadness. It has Mrs P ultimately
facing danger while on the phone to organise a visa to visit family in Manchester
in the UK.
Mrs P marks not the only moment Uys appears in drag, of course — Tannie Evita, it
almost goes without saying, is also here. But she makes only a brief appearance right
at the end of the show, and not before Uys constantly surprises his audience, during
application of make-up and false eyelashes, by revealing other “famous white women”.
Among them are kugel Nowell Fine and politicians Angela Merkel and Theresa May.
As the press release states, the show sees Pieter-Dirk sorting out 40 years of distress,
disguise and disgust: from apartheid to tripartite, from amandla to Nkandla — and
happily back to amandla.
Expect to see and hear the likes of Piet Koornhof and PW Botha — even a hilarious
performance of PW Botha impersonating Jacob Zuma, complete with cackles, dance moves
and leopard skins.
We also get passing references to Mulusi Gigaba, MotherTheresa, Donald Trump and
Durban’s Alhambra Theatre, among other things, and all are well received.
For me, the best parts of the show come with Uys casually chatting about his home,
experiences and community of friends in Darling. He chats about discovering the town
by having got lost on a road trip. He talks about how he fell in love with a dilapidated
Victorian house there that was later restored by members of the community.
He also talks lovingly about converting the Darling railway station into his beloved
cabaret venue and museum. And he talks of his acceptance by a close community, and
discusses children there that he has seen grow up to become successful adults.
He also tells of a particularly amusing day trip to a burger joint and cinema that
he arranged for a group of the town’s kids.
When in Doubt, Say Darling is in Durban on November 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10 and 11. It
will be the Hexagon Theatre in Pietermaritzburg on November 6 and 7. Booking is at
– Chris Sutton, Publicity Matters, 2 November 2018
Pieter-Dirk Uys’s great skill is his ability to think deeply, write succinctly and
present superbly. I don’t think that calling him a genius is far-fetched and his
latest show reinforces his standing as one of South Africa’s greatest artists.
“When in Doubt, Say Darling” takes a side swipe at political correctness and the
inability of some of our countrymen and women to eradicate words from our vocabulary
that are shot like arrows at the balloon of goodwill that Nelson Mandela left us
as part of his legacy.
Whilst he is cutting in his portrayal of politicians antics, he is neither myopic,
one sided or cruel : he tells it as it is. And it is his telling that is — well —
telling. He seems to understand that politicians are simply flawed beings who cannot
help themselves (mmm — contradiction perhaps?). No matter which side of the political
spectrum they pollute, politicians will always let their flaws hang out for all to
see — and for Pieter Dirk Uys to ‘talk’ to us about.
This show takes us on a journey through parts of Mr Uys’ life since he moved to Darling,
renovating his new home, interaction with the towns residents and with detours into
the past; where we are reminded of the info scandal, P.W. Botha and of course Piet
Koornhof. On the way he pricks (yes — Malusi gets a mention too) at the DA, millennials
and erstwhile president, Jacob Zumba. He regales us with light hearted memories of
Nelson Mandela, who he was clearly very fond of, but has little funny to say about
Julius Malema, who he appears to have dark reservations about. And of course Tannie
Evita closes the show.
A standout for me was Pieter Dirk Uys changing costumes and personas on stage. It’s
not just the costumes, makeup and hair that change; his facial expression, body posture
and entire demeanour morph seamlessly into the new characters.
Pieter-Dirk Uys’ sold out "When in doubt say darling” returns to the Fugard in November
– Theatre Scene Cape Town, 21 August 2018
Pieter-Dirk Uys’ newest show, When in doubt say darling, sold out as it opened at
the Fugard Theatre on 8 August, creating an unprecedented demand for tickets. With
a growing waiting list for the current season that ends on Saturday 25 August 2018,
the Fugard Theatre has now opened bookings for a return season in November 2018.
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.
In this production, Pieter-Dirk Uys sorts 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 Altzheimers. Sometimes politics repeats
itself, not only taking history and turning it into farce, but taking farce and turning
into the fake news which is now called entertainment.
Join Pieter-Dirk Uys 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.
When in doubt say darling runs from 27 November 2018 to 15 December 2018 at the Fugard
Studio Theatre with performances Tuesday to Friday at 8pm and Saturday at 4pm and
8pm. Booking is through the Fugard Theatre box office on 0214614554 or directly through
the Fugard Theatre website on www.thefugard.com.
CONSUMMATE entertainer that he is, Pieter-Dirk Uys has injected new life into tried-and-tested
favourites of his repertoire — with an artful blend of the familiar and the fresh.
The result is a sly, sweet, satirical farrago of material — appropriately ushered
in by a snappy rendition of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes.
Understatement is key, with Uys clad in a versatile, basic black ensemble — lending
itself to the many changes of personae involved in this show.
The stage is likewise set with a minimum of props — an assemblage of cardboard boxes
that serve the dual purpose of containing costume accessories and suggesting a life
in transition. Like many a senior citizen, Uys is facing the need to downscale and
jettison encumbering possessions.
Since he is a resident of the village of Darling, and also has frequent recourse
to the hackneyed endearment “darling” when memory fails him regarding the name of
an interlocutor, the title of his latest show is doubly justified.
He takes us on a trip down memory lane, as he recalls the purchase of his Victorian
house in Darling, the genesis of his theatre Evita se Perron, his integration into
village life and the characters encountered along the way.
Most poignant among these is the elderly gent preparing to relocate from his family
home to an old-age retirement centre, as well as the voluble Muslim lady from the
Bo-Kaap, locking horns with the authorities in an attempt to get a visa for a first-time
visit to her family in Manchester. Uys’s irrepressible sense of humour keeps the
tone light but the underlying issues are there to exercise the mind.
Inevitably Evita Bezuidenhout makes her appearance, but this time her presence is
not pivotal to the show. She is in fact deconstructed as Uys applies the requisite
make-up, wig and costume, in full view of his spectators, with an occasional excursion
into the character of “the wrong white lady”, offering inspired impersonations of
Angela Merkel and Theresa May.
Most witty of all is his audacious portrayal of Zuma by PW Botha, a neat solution
to the problem of a white man in a black role — both were presidents of this country
and both make almost identical speeches, the former with wagging finger, the latter
with forced chuckles. It makes you think, which is what Uys does best.
Note: When in Doubt Say Darling is sold out for the entire run, but there is a waiting
list for cancellations.
HE’S 72 and he has been practising the art of making people laugh and cry for more
than 40 years.
But does there come a point where one lays down one’s props and costumes, puts away
the high heels and slops and the mascara and the nail polish, and calls it a day?
“Never, darling,” says PieterDirk Uys when we meet at his favourite café in Kloof
“I am anchored to the now… While many people may be traumatised by what’s happening
and how it affects them, in this respect I am optimistic.”
He’s recently back from Amsterdam, where he performed in Afrikaans. He recently won
a Comics Choice Lifetime Achievement Award and the Hertzog Prize for Drama. And in
between all his outof-town gigs, Uys manages to fit in an amazing 90 shows a year
In his acceptance speech made on his behalf in absentia at the Savannah Comics Choice
Awards: Lifetime Achiever Award 2018, he said rather fittingly: “Comedians can’t
really get awards, but they can receive them to pass them on to the really funny
people, who unfailingly inspire us… In our case, the mass of third-rate politicians
with their fourth-rate ideas.
“Thanks to our successful democracy we will never be at a loss for words.
“I am happy to accept your award for my lifetime in the trenches of political incorrectness,
which has now opened up into a minefield of hashtags and hate speech…”
When in Doubt say Darling is an appropriate name for his latest show. After playing
successfully in Joburg, it returns to the Mother City in August for a three-week
run at The Fugard.
Darling is probably his favourite way of referring to anybody and everybody, and
it’s also the place, as he says, “that allows me to stop and smell and breathe”.
More than 20 years ago, Uys happened on the village quite by chance.
He says one public holiday, he drove off into the sunlight. He was, he claims, on
his way to McGregor, but took a wrong turn and ended up in the West Coast village.
He met the estate agent, who drove him around. After a few twists and turns, he fell
in love — taking one look and buying his house from the car.
Shortly after that, one of the station buildings became vacant. Evita se Perron was
born, and of course the rest is history.
He jokes when he says: “I have been unemployed since 1975.
“One can always laugh at one’s own fear… And if you always expect the worst, hoping
it will never be as bad as you expect, then you’re okay.”
And yes, sometimes, politics repeats itself and that’s what the latest show is all
In it, as he says, he “sorts 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…”
He adds: “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’. And if you get lost along
the road to somewhere, simply ask for Darling.”
When in Doubt say Darling is on at The Fugard Studio Theatre from August 7 to August
25. Call 021 461 4554 or book online at thefugard.com
Pieter-Dirk Uys is discovering pearls in the muddy potholes of life at age 72
Pieter-Dirk Uys (PDU as he is lovingly abbreviated) is back with a new show, ‘When
in doubt say darling’, at the Fugard Theatre this August. Peter Tromp caught up with
the theatre legend.
– Peter Tromp, The Next 48 Hours, 26 July 2018
It’s been more than two years since we last spoke with you. How has life treated
you since our last exchange?
Two years? Goodness, it feels like 48 hours. What can I tell you…being 72 really
only means one is no longer tied down to the number 60. But there is something different
about life when seeing one’s sell-by date. I think at last the audition is over.
The disease to please has been cured. Maybe for the first time I don’t have to deliver
what people expect, but what will surprise them and me. For 40 plus years I have
been focused on the ups and down, the ins and outs of local politics. That hasn’t
changed. But politics is here today and gone tonight. The third-rate politicians
with their fourth rate ideas who terrorize us with their corruption and arrogance
will eventually be forgotten on the rubbish heap of old jokes. It’s the people around
one that count: family, friends, children, grandchildren, neighbours and the cats.
So life has been treating me to a merry-go-round of rediscovery.
Tell us about your new show, ‘When in doubt say darling’. What can audiences look
forward to from you in your latest foray onto the planks?
The last political exercise was ‘Adapt or Fly’. Then came my memoir ‘The Echo of
a Noise’, and maybe that more than anything showed me that politics isn’t as universal
among audiences as I thought — it’s the story that matters. That’s what theatre is
all about and even things that make you laugh need a storyline. Politics has no story.
It just has a beginning, because they never bother to hang in till the end. And so
I use the D-word on stage and do my tango in this present minefield of hashtags and
hate speech. The town of Darling is where I live, but the word “darling” is also
an endearment we overuse in theatre — “hello darling” here, there and everywhere.
Then again when one reaches a certain age, you also forget certain things: his name,
her name, their names. So? When in doubt, say darling. I combine both worlds in my
new show — the bloody arena of politics and the comfort-zone of stories. Having lived
in Darling for 23 years has given me a balance to the breaking news of shock and
awe. It has reminded me that life goes on in spite of the Trumps, Malemas, lies,
fears and droughts. I share some of those moments with my audience with a smile and
How do you keep your sanity in a world of Zumas and Trumps and Netanyahus and Erdogans
and Putins and Jinpings — (supposedly) democratically elected authoritarians who
make an absolute mockery of truth?
Let’s rephrase that and say I keep my INSANITY in spite of the so-called sanity of
politics and social upheavels. There’s nothing more healing at the end of a session
of working at the latest tensions surrounding land issues, racism, poverty, corruption
and headlines than spending time with your cat. There is also another good way to
keep yourself from going completely moegoe when you allow the world’s troubles to
break wind in the palm of your hand. Switch off the cell phone, the iPhone, the WhatsApp,
the Google, the YouTube. Ban the social media back to the cloud. I also have a sign
on my computer which helps: “Don’t press send when pissed!”
You have always provided us with historical context for whatever times we found ourselves
in. What do you make of South Africa’s present, and how do we weather the inevitable
storms to come?
I leave a lot of that to Mrs Bezuidenhout now that she is a member of the ANC where
she cooks for reconciliation and keeps her eye on the fragile crystal ball of democracy.
She reminds her audience that we must remember where we come from so that we can
celebrate where we are going. I want her optimism to encourage people to believe
that for every piece of bad news there are two pieces of good news. But you have
to find that pearl in the muddy potholes of daily life.
Will we see Tannie Evita make an appearance in this show?
My stage at the Fugard Studio Theatre is full of boxes. Packing up is hard to do,
but after 40 years it’s time to sort out all the hats, glasses, jackets, wigs, earrings
and dresses. Tannie Evita always has a choice of three outfits: fat, medium and large.
And so I do find moments in our past to remind the audience how much better the world
around us can become if we laugh at our fear and make it less fearful. Of course
there is PW Botha, briefly, and Jacob Zuma, even more briefly. Piet Koornhof’s mask
of big ears and nose makes a flighting appearance. But the focus is on the now: from
the red berets (Gucci of course) to the new separate developments of Brexit, Trump
and Malema. And my ladies do make their appearance: Mrs Petersen, Mrs Merkel, Mrs
May, Mrs Fine and of course Mrs Bezuidenhout. How can I leave her out? Her reality
show on YouTube (and repeated via the Daily Maverick) is now on Episode 152 — ‘Evita’s
Free Speech’, every Sunday. Catch her there if you can.
* ‘When in doubt say darling’ is at the Fugard Studio Theatre from August 7 to 25,
with bookings through 021 461 4554.
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,
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.
– 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
When in Doubt Say Darling is on at Montecasino’s Pieter Toerien Theatre until 22
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
"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,"
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
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.
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
“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
“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.
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.