Reviews of

Elections & Erections

(full texts of reviews are found in the Archives)

Reviews of Elections & Erections in Los Angeles  —  October 2009

"Elections" is part confessional, part drag satire and all politics ....  Uys' message — that the health of a country depends on citizens leading their politicians and not the other way around — resonated powerfully.

– Charlotte Stoudt, Los Angeles Times, 6 October 2009

Elections & Erections has a wondrous blend of political cynicism and optimism, derived from a love of life that gives this show its energy.

– Steven Leigh Morris, LA Weekly, 5 October 2009


Reviews of Elections & Erections in Cape Town  —  April / May 2009

South Africa is not for sissies. We are a tough bunch of multi-coloured peeps who long ago learned to laugh at our fears and torments. But even the most resilient of South Africans have been challenged by the machinations of late.Thank heavens for Pieter-Dirk Uys.  Some of his humour is really dark but the wink it accompanies is so broad that it goes down easily. ...  In these trying times Uys proves himself to be a vital national treasure.

– Zane Henry, Tonight, 15 April 2009

Uys serves up a hearty portion of social commentary, coated with a thick layer of satire to sate the most cynical of appetites. Judging by the way he ripped into any topical political figure, the term ‘diplomatic immunity' clearly meant nothing to him — nobody was exempt.

The timing [of Elections & Erections] could not have been any more perfect. Foremost in the hearts and minds of all South Africans at the moment are the upcoming elections, which provide plenty of fodder for Uys. But while tickling your funny-bone, he also provokes serious thought, and in trying times like these, laughter may yet turn out to be the best medicine. I highly recommend you get your dose.

– Kent Reeve, bizcommunity.com, 9 April 2009

With the national elections only a week away, the latest offering from satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys could not be more relevant. ...  One really is left with an overwhelming sense of the positivity of what means to be South African. It’s all about being energised by the fears and fun that are a part of being in exciting times in an exciting place. And about using your vote to help make the sort of difference that one dreams of.

Uys uses this stage as his soapbox and the message is clear — a loud "No, you can’t!..." get away with ridiculousness, directed at our politicians, and a resounding call to the people of South Africa to help maintain that accountability, to love the wonderful country in which we live, and mostly — to VOTE!

And quite frankly, I think he does so rather brilliantly!

– Fiona Gordon, artslink.co.za, 14 April 2009

Politics isn’t life, it isn’t even close, but somehow PDU makes it feel alive. And humane. The way he lampoons public figures is hardly ever done with menace. Instead he tackles their hubris and delusions with a critical but still almost forgiving eye. He is an artist, and that sometimes means taking the high road. 

"Elections And Erections" is one hell of a show, and a good time guaranteed.

– Peter Tromp, The Next 48 Hours, 17 April 2009



Reviews of Elections & Erections in Johannesburg  — March 2009

I'd forgotten how funny Pieter-Dirk Uys is. His delivery is superb, his analysis spot-on and no one is spared. This is a must-see show. It is irreverent, cutting-edge and above all, incredibly funny. Uys is a living legend.

– Therese Owen,  Saturday Star, 7 March 2009

Elections and Erections is devastating, brilliant and outrageous. ... In a flawless piece of political audacity that encourages his audience to view their world as a wonderfully funny and carefully crafted comedy, Uys handles his material with integrity and a light touch, helping with the only really necessary revolution: revolution in the heart.

– Mary Jordan, Business Day, 10 March 2009

Trust Pieter-Dirk Uys to bring us the fear and fun of politics in equal doses as he puts the erection back into election.  As he dazzles with his brand of diplomacy — slapping everyone equally hard — he has us laughing at the country we love.

More than that, he (and she) tell it like it is:  Be scared, be very scared. The Tannie is talking tough.

– Diane de Beer, Tonight, 6 March 2009

Master satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys is back on top form with  Elections and Erections. ...  It is crisp, clever and hits the comedy mark with precision.  Staged to coincide with the run-up to the general election on April 22, Elections and Erections does what no politician can: it delivers the facts, wrapped up in a swaddle of belly laughter but unencumbered by spin-doctoring and petty points-scoring.  Uys does not discriminate in who he skewers.  He continues to serve as a watchdog with undiminished vigour while ferreting out the absurdities of modern South African life.

– Christina Kennedy, SA Jewish Report, 13 March 2009

Pieter Dirk Uys’s Elections and Erections, appears to be innocent humour on the surface.  But it is not. It is actually a serious political commentary touching on many strands of our politics.  Well, the commentary is well packaged, in such a way that you will laugh, but at the same time when you scratch beyond the humour-coated surface of this satire, you will realise that it gets into the core of our body politic.

– Edward Tsumele, Sowetan, 13 March 2009

Pieter-Dirk Uys is back! And I don’t just mean with a new play. In Elections & Erections he’s back as himself. He delivers a riveting monologue in which he recounts his first sexual experience with a man of another race which should be stored carefully in the gay archives for its colour and realism. ... This show is not to be missed.

– Gavin Hayward, EXIT Online, March 2009

The consummate raconteur, Uys still has the power to move audiences deeply. ... He's providing a priceless public service by helping ordinary folk face the difficult issues head-on.

– Bruce Dennill, The Citizen, 5 March 2009

Pieter-Dirk Uys, one of South Africa's most celebrated theatrical figures, certainly has his timing right. Weeks before the election, Uys has created a show that is both educational and hugely entertaining. As always the material is excellent and Uys sparkles as Evita. It's the stuff we need right now.

– Peter Feldman, Artslink, 4 March 2009

'n Mens verlaat die teater met 'n bree glimlag, 'n positiewe(r) blik op landsake en politiek en 'n hernuwde waardering vir 'n satirikus sonder gelyke. ELECTIONS & ERECTIONS is doepa vir meer as net die getroue teaterganger. Moet dit nie misloop nie.'

– Kobus Burger, Beeld, 10 March 2009

The laughs come quickly and with vengeance. ...  There’s a bitter humour peppered with poignancy which reaches deeper than the stage,. [and] offers salient insight into Uys’ brilliance. He works with heart: his empathy toward his audience is palpable; he can laugh at us and with us simultaneously.

It is truly a joy to see Uys back onstage, giving the flaccid wishy-washiness of pre-election doublespeak a kick where it can be felt most palpably.

– Robyn Sassen, Artslink, March 2009



Reviews of Elections & Erections in Durban  — February 2009

Uys dishes up a meaty stew of characters from his past, present and future — a melting pot of matters both political and, rather touchingly, personal.

Elections & Erections sees Uys at the peak of his game. Don't miss him!

– Billy Suter, Tonight, 20 February 2009

The first half of the show is taken up with impersonations of characters that followers of Pieter-Dirk Uys will be familiar with but you can rest assured that all the material is new. ... The second half of the show features Evita Bezuidenhout at her best. Her sharp wit is razor-edged when she banters with the audience and answers questions. ... Strongly recommended.

– Mark Colvin, Kwana.co.za, 20 February 2009

Uys had the audience in stitches, he had us wide-eyed and thoughtful, he had us howling like banshees. The man is a consummate observer of South Africa's social and political foibles. ... The master of the elegant dismount and the eloquent delivery, he held every member of the audience in thrall.

– Travis Lyle, The Voodoo Kitchen, 18 February 2009

Pieter-Dirk Uys has, with his extraordinary talent and courage, changed the face of South African theatre and comedy. He continues to be inventive, original, sharp as wolves' teeth and hilarious and, if, as in Elections and Erections, he allows his vulnerability to show, it gives us a twinkle of insight into the kind of man he is under the vigilant intellect and hard-line comment.

The thrust of Elections and Erections is, of course, the forthcoming elections: an ideal playground for Uys to frolic on. As always, the mind-blowing misdemeanours, idiotic sayings, appalling behaviour and scandalous scenarios that are part of the real lives of our politicians provide excellent material for his wit and wisdom.

Uys is fearless in his continued pursuit of his craft.

– Gisele Turner, Tonight, 24 February 2009

No-one escapes Uys’ penetrating eye.  The witty and cutting-edge remarks keep coming.

– Caroline Smart, Artsmart, 19 February 2009

Pieter Dirk Uys takes to the stage as if the whole country is his living room, commanding hundreds of people as if he's having them over for tea. The audience is made comfortable, uncomfortable, jovial and then uncomfortable at being jovial. He exercises our dark thoughts, he shows us how to hope through a comedy of despair.

For all the seeming randomness of his wandering through all his characters, he has picked carefully what he wants to tell us, he uses jokes and languages understandable on all levels, and he guides the audience through a thought process that is primarily to amuse, yes, sure, but actually to enlighten. There is not much comedy that can claim such ideals.

Uys uses the comedy of politics to gently prod out complacency, and make us feel good about thinking again, he delivers a meal of humor with a spice of thinking. You simply have to see the man to understand the depth of his comedy.

– Nathan Zeno, Durban Live



Reviews of Elections & Erections in America — April and May 2008

Although her image looms over the Zero Arrow stage and she gets the last spot on the bill, Mrs. Bezuidenhout is not "Elections & Erections" most memorable persona. ... Tannie Evita is eclipsed by Uys’s turns as, among others, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela (in which impersonations he is broad yet uncanny), Winnie Mandela, Mother Teresa (manning the phone lines in heaven), Bill Clinton (whose smirk he perfectly emulates), and "Jewish-African princess" Mrs. Nowell Fine, who, despite her advanced years and the rigors of her toilette, has found the time and heart to adopt a "black AIDS orphan baby".... A master clown, the self-effacing Uys manages to be lovable even when his material is scathing. In his own guise (balding, a bit thick, in black tunic, pants, and eyeliner), the performer urges us to approach the upcoming election in a state of arousal rather apathy. Elections & Erections, too, is worth getting it up for.

 – Carolyn Clay, The Boston Phoenix, 8 April 2008

Uys's skills as a performer and mimic are remarkable. His sense of timing, his ability to transform himself with the wave of a hand and a fake eyelash or two, and his virtuosic range of accents and tones are always fascinating to watch. His political points, too, are hard to argue with; he's particularly passionate on the subject of AIDS and the appalling response of Thabo Mbeki's government to this crisis, and his ability to pinpoint absurdity makes his critique here especially strong.

 – Louise Kennedy, The Boston Globe, 10 April 2008

Though the famous Evita does make an appearance, Uys is at his satirical best as a privileged South African Jewish woman who adopts a black orphan out of guilt. One of the finest moments comes when Uys speaks about how his awakening to his homosexuality also led to his liberation from the racist Afrikaner dogma he grew up with.

Don’t come to "Elections and Erections" expecting political correctness. Uys comes from a country that can’t afford to tiptoe around issues. His show comes from a place of outrage on behalf of his country, and a will to see it change.

 – Jenna Scherer, The Boston Herald, 8 April 2008

In this one-man show, Pieter-Dirk Uys lays claim to the Whitmanesque vision that he "contains the multitudes," by becoming many people whose personal and political lives mirror — and influence — our own. This show is indeed his "Song of Myself." He becomes Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu, the late South African President P.W. Botha (who died in 2006 at age 90), Sen. Hillary Clinton, and, later, his own creation, Evita Bezuidenhout. ...

[He also] tells us of a long ago night of passion. It took place in secret, between a young black man and himself, at a time when such an act defied the laws of apartheid, not to mention the religious training both men had embraced. He tells the story with poignancy, pathos and tenderness against a backdrop of despair and fear. It is as triumphant as it is heartbreaking.

In that moment, all that he has been trying to accomplish — with much fanfare and many costume changes and a torrent of words — rings true. The simplest stories are often the most memorable. But it takes this moment of quiet anguish to win us, to bring us into his world.

 – Robert Israel, The Edge, 9 April 2008

[Uys] is a mammoth talent, and he has a heart to match. He genuinely cares about the subjects he talks about: principally, the devastation that AIDS is wreaking on his homeland and on the rest of Africa, and the myriad social/political/economic tribulations of South Africa and, too, of America and the world. Uys is a humanist performer who uses satire to teach us what we either should know but don't, or do know but forgot. ...

But important as what Uys has to say always is, for me it is his consummate skill as a theatre artist that proves most impressive about Elections & Erections. ... The paradox of this ordinary-looking man switching into a host of extraordinary larger-than-life characters parallels the effect of Uys's show on an audience, which is to make us laugh uproariously one moment and then come up short in the very next moment as we grasp the enormous ease with which humans can be corrupted, can be unjust. For its artistry and its significance, Elections & Erections deserves your attention. I only wish Uys were keeping it here in New York for a longer time.

 – Martin Denton, nytheatre.com, 5 May 2008

The comedic excess of [Elections & Erections] is disarming, resisting categorization and thereby dispelling the viewer’s potential biases against outspoken activism. Uys mocks public figures across the ideological spectrum, forcing the audience to abandon political allegiances and approach the show from a common standpoint of startled acceptance.

Though tempered by comedy, Uys paints a bleak, totalizing picture of the corruption, incompetence, and bigotry that permeates national and international politics. This cynicism can easily collapse into pessimistic apathy and hopelessness, but Uys stresses the importance of optimism. He lightens his political satire with stories of ordinary citizens taking an active role in improving their country’s situation.

This faith in the actions of individual citizens has been a driving factor in Uys’ work. "The people must lead," says Uys, "and the government will follow."

 – Mark A. Van Middlesworth, The Harvard Crimson, 17 April 2008

Uys perfectly captures the personalities of each character in his entourage, with accents and costumes that transform him from a middle-aged white man into a variety of races and sexes.

But one of the most honest parts of Uys' performance is a story from his own life, of how an erection led him to be a Democrat and see beyond apartheid. ...

Throughout all of his comedy, Uys ultimately believes in a future for his country and for ours. He has a refreshing ability to be both hopeful and hilarious at the same time.

 – Katie Greer, The Berkeley Beacon, 17 April 2008

Pieter-Dirk Uys is a clever, creative, talented performer [and] Elections & Erections is a show that makes one laugh and also squirm. What better way to be entertained and intellectually stimulated? The production is a forceful tour of a slice of our recent political and cultural history. Elections & Erections is a performance piece that should not be missed.

The layers of meaning, social and political history and cultural friction are far beyond the general entertainment lite of a cabaret. This is serious stuff filtered through the satirist's eye, ear and personality. There is a very thin line between anger and humor stated here. [Uys] is far from prejudiced. All governments provide grist for his humor mill. He spares no one or no place in his provocative performance both in drag and as himself. He suffers fools not lightly but well and often makes us either wince or chuckle while extolling their often tragically human flaws and foibles.

 – Mark Favermann, bershirefinearts.com, 13 April 2008



Reviews of Elections & Erections in London — 2004

Elections and Erections celebrates 10 years of democracy and sexual freedom, but it is a bitter-sweet birthday. Poverty is everywhere, Aids is rife. Apartheid is dead, but hypocrisy — "the Vaseline of political intercourse" — is alive and kicking.

The nimble South African satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys is a consummate impressionist, gliding through umpteen costume changes, ... but behind the frocks and smiles, this satire has more bite than a rabid rottweiler.

 – Bruce Dessau, Evening Standard, 13 May 2004

*****  The great thing about Uys's brilliant one-man show is his moral discrimination. While welcoming democracy and paying tribute to Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, he remains passionately angry about the inertia that allows 600 people a day to die of Aids. And Uys's attacks on (President Thabo) Mbeki's attitude to Aids, especially, prove that satire can be a positive force for good.

– Michael Billington, The Guardian, 14 May 2004

Pieter-Dirk Uys remains a robust and vigorous stage presence. ... Most strikingly, by being rooted in compassion rather than cynicism, his polemic strikes more forcefully than that of many politicised entertainers. ... This is not light entertainment, but it needs to be said, and no other performer could say it with such flair or conviction.

– Stephanie Merritt, The Observer, 16 May 2004

***  As long as Uys continues to "put the mock in democracy", there is hope for us all.

– Robert Hewison, The Sunday Times, 23 May 2004

A thought-provoking, moving and personal piece of satirical theatre of the kind we see all too rarely these days.

Internet UK Comedy Guide

It is testament to his skills as a performer and the regard in which he is held, that Uys can deliver such chilling material while still using his devilish wit to find humour in the bleakest of corners.

– Chris Bartlett, The Stage