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**** Evita and the Kaktus of Separate Development

– Leon van Nierop, Artslink, 26 May 2017

Just when you thought that Pieter-Dirk Uys couldn’t get funnier or more topical, or even sharper, along comes this.

The show, perhaps one of his most illustrious and finest productions, starts harmlessly enough with a bewildered Mrs Bezuidenhout trying to get Gwede Mantashe on the phone, (he ran out of airtime!) demanding to know why the stage has not been set and the deliveries made for her appearance tonight. Her asides and throw-away lines are precious and extremely funny. This is where her strength lies. In the jokes she throws away!

With Evita’s typical sly, acerbic wit, Uys uses his alter ego to poke fun at incompetence in government, non-delivery of services and the general state of semi chaos currently prevailing in the country. Best of all: he still succeeds in making us laugh at the state our city and country are in, although it feels as if you are smiling through razor blades.

But the biggest surprise comes in the second half of the show when a radiant Evita on a handsomely made-up stage tackles a few holy cows (from which she makes splendid comedic hamburgers) and other unlucky personalities are lashed by her sharp tongue. But Uys’s success also lies in the fact that he takes out the whip on all of us, no matter what your culture, skin colour, religious beliefs, language, or political views. Nobody is spared the rod and you catch yourself laughing out loud, getting a fistful of wit aimed at you particularly, knocking you out flat, and then continuing as if nothing has happened.

If anything, Uys teaches us to laugh at ourselves and not take ourselves too seriously.

This is perhaps one of his most brilliant evocations of Evita Bezuidenhout’s view of our country and of the world in general. At a time like this we need (and deserve!) to laugh not only at her, but also at ourselves.

The stage design is beautiful, Uys’s improvisational skills are remarkable (as his banter with those who don’t understand Afrikaans in die audience proved) and his humour is priceless. This is an absolute treasure. If you are an Evita groupie like I am, get yourselves over to Montecasino. The show is brilliant!

Evita Bezuidenhout and the Kaktus of Separate Development ****

Starring Pieter-Dirk Uys

At Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre until June 11.



Evita and the astonishing freedom of irrelevance

– Robyn Sassen, My View, 26 May 2017

A STEPLADDER REACHES up to the ceiling of the stage. The curtains are half closed. There’s a “horrible little doll” representing Economic Freedom Front leader, Julius Malema, and Evita Bezuidenhout, togged in flimsy leopard print and doek with a bag full of goodies arrives for an Imbizo, cellphone at hand, a bag full of goodies under her arm and a litany of rich and fantastic tales to regale us with, through the trajectory of her own history and the murk of lies and fake facts which we’re fed all the time.

But who are “we” in the saga? The Montecasino audience is traditionally largely white. The diatribe constructed, certainly in the first half of this production is extremely white-focused, and you emerge at interval pondering the relevance of Evita, who has been up until now, not only the most famous woman in South Africa, but largely a legend in her own time — ask Archbishop Desmond Tutu — in the arena of political satire.

Interspersed with everything, from a splaying out of fake news into fake history, to jabs at everything from measles vaccinations to Donald Trump’s blatant sexism, the work is beautifully written, top of the moment in political acuity and newsworthiness and well-structured, but it does feel monumentally long — for you in the audience, and for the 71-year-old performer on stage.

But then, as the second half opens, replete with enlarged reproductions of the kind of prints and paintings that adorned classrooms under apartheid, a piano and some other choice props, the piece’s pace heats up and the racial focus of the work comes into astonishing relief. Evita, arguably the world’s queen of fake news, examines the kak in historical cacti, and the repartee whirrs and flies with a mixture of heady political and sexual references which take Mrs Bezuidenhout to a new level of wit.

A character constructed by Pieter-Dirk Uys, who we’ve seen on these stages with a completely different frame of references but a few weeks ago, Evita is always a draw-card for local audiences. All through apartheid, she had the temerity to hold up the crooked and ugly mirror to South Africans. Now, at 71, she’s both suave and naive, politically astute and believable. She’s the epitome of Afrikaans genteel manners all wrapped up in a range of other subtleties and she’s the exactly appropriate vehicle for some of the finest of insults towards South African leadership and history, and like any good jester, carries with her a handbag of bold and brave tricks and jibes, and neither Jacob Zuma nor Thabo Mbeki, Nelson Mandela nor Kgalema Mothlanthe escape unscathed.

Enfolding everything in the polite terms of an Afrikaans tannie who helps out in the kitchen of Tuynhuys, the Presidential Residence in Cape Town, on a Tuesday, Evita who is now a junior member of the ANC — she was during the 1980s, apartheid’s ambassador to the fictional South African homeland, Bapetikosweti — is now a gogo in her own right, and continues playing court jester with as much pizzazz and elegance as she’s done for over twenty years. But today, her bite is even sharper, and her focus more specifically honed. In considering her own racism, she will force you to ponder yours. In considering how she is a non-black South African, she will make you think a little deeper about what it takes to exist with authenticity in this topsy turvy world of ours. And how the white Afrikaner’s relevance has evaporated.

You will laugh, but often it is a laughter spiced with savvy or even sadness, as you acknowledge the bitter truths and historical projections that are within Evita’s ambit, and that reflect on the brokenness of the context in which all South Africans live and make sense of everything.

    Evita Bezuidenhout and the Kaktus of Separate Development is written, directed and performed by Pieter-Dirk Uys at the Pieter Toerien Theatre, Montecasino, Fourways, until June 11.



'Hi, I'm Evita, I'm a South African!'

– Jennifer de Klerk, Artslink, 29 May 2017

For more than 35 years Pieter-Dirk Uys has scrutinised and satirised our society, which is, of course, considerably and constantly changing.

I have seen him in many shows over the years, from his bitingly sharp digs at the National Party and apartheid in the ‘80s and ’90s, when he frequently caught the attention of the security police, to more recent times, when he had to put PW Botha’s pointing finger and Piet Koornhof’s big ears into the back bin and find ways to portray the new elite. He could take off Nelson Mandela’s voice to perfection.

His most noted personsa is, of course, Evita Bezuidenhout or Tannie Evita, hailed widely as South Africa’s First Lady. She has acquired a varied family and a detailed history, including serving as ambassador to the independent homeland of Bapetisosweti, in the days when we had such things, of course.

Even Evita Bezuidenhout, with her stiffly set hair, lavish dresses and huge eyelashes, has had to move with the times and now, she tells us, she makes koeksusters in the kitchens at Luthuli House, after joining the ANC two years ago.

The Kaktus of Separate Development stars Evita, looking older naturally — Pieter-Dirk has turned 80 — putting her own spin on our present, rather peculiar, circumstances. Don’t let third-rate politicians with fourth-rate ideas get you down, she says, tackling head-on the general miasma that overlies our society like volcanic ash.

She’s as sharp and perceptive as ever, tossing out witty asides you wish you could remember, only to have them overlaid by the next. As an Afrikaner, a member of the community which is now the most disadvantaged, she says, she slips in and out of the language, which is often far more flexible and expressive than English. You don’t need to be fluent, but you’ll miss out if you don’t speak any Afrikaans, which would be a pity.

The show falls, deliberately, into two halves. In the first, Evita performs with minimum props as the ANC has failed to deliver on time (appreciative laughter). When I saw the show, they were naturally preoccupied with the NEC meeting. Pieter-Dirk Uys has always been totally up-to-date with the news (and the fake news) and gives his own wry and penetrating analysis. He does not spare the barbs, sticking them into everyone, including Donald Trump (not difficult), everyone except Arch Tutu and Mandela.

Did we ever stop to think, he asks, where we would be today if Mandela had come out of Pollsmoor Prison angry? How many would have died? Instead, we have a second chance, but what are we doing with it?

The second half frames Tannie Evita with everything including a piano — and at last the cactus, a round, spiky ball that has, according to her, haunted South Africa since the days of Jan van Riebeeck. She gives a hilarious and irreverent history lesson which convulsed those of us educated in the old regime, where I was bored to tears by doing Jan van Riebeeck and the Great Trek every year in junior school.

In contrast, my Born Free daughter was all at sea. She had vaguely heard of Jan, didn’t know when he’d landed, had never heard of the French, German and English settlers, knew something about slavery, but had heard of the Voortrekkers and Boer War only from us, her parents. She can, however, tell you all about apartheid. She did history for matric. Thus, is history rewritten by those in ascendancy.

Weaving through the spiky material, which is delivered with an honesty that had the audience gasping, Pieter-Dirk subtly expounds his message. And, yes, there is one. Democracy first. Democracy always, Democracy forever.

Move on, he urges, stop trying to hammer the stubborn square of the past into the round hole of the future. After all, we are all South Africans — except those in the audience who were Zimbabweans. Shame.

The Kaktus of Separate Development with Pieter-Dirk Uys is at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre until June 11, then moves to Cape Town’s Theatre on the Bay from June 20 to July 1



Review: Evita Bezuidenhout and the Kaktus of Separate Development

– Ayanda Sky, TMTv-SA, 26 May 2017

Tannie Evita Bezuidenhout has graced Pieter Toerien's Montecasino Theatre & Studio with her fabulously satirical self, this time, we are introduced to literature and some controversial. . .gardening.

Evita Bezuidenhout's 'Kaktus of Separate Development' is lush with anecdotes that only Tannie Evita could tell so well. Audiences are taken around the world as well as back in time to the history that shaped South Africa. . .with some Evita spice of course, because, you know, she's the best political chef South Africa and the world ever did see.

With the latest satirical pricks, to the latest political scandals blossoming around the world, Evita Bezuidenhout turns the mirror to South Africa with a subtle reflexivity that will light you up with laughter but break your heart all at the same time.

Thank you to BUZ Publicity & Media for inviting TMTvSA, and catch 'Evita Bezuidenhout and the Kaktus of Separate Development' at Pieter Toerien in Montecasino until 11th June.



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