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The further antics of Gatiepie

AR Krueger

Review of Gatiepie Sien Vrou-Spoke
8-19 November, Rendezvous, State Theatre and KKNK fringe 2006

When I was speaking to Kevin Athol Ehrenreich after his show, he gave away his age by telling me that he was part of the last "coloured" matriculants to receive a TED education before the separation of the different departments of education under the Apartheid administration. And yet, listening to the energy and vigour with which he speaks, one would never imagine that he's been around for so long.

Over his brandy and Coke, Ehrenreich spoke at breakneck pace about his passion for Afrikaans, theatre and the youth of South Africa. He's lived all his life in Regard Park and writes with conviction about the lives of "die bruin mense". He takes his role as representative of this unique culture seriously, and sees himself as more than a comedian. One of his most successful projects to date was writing a 13-part series, Agter die Mynhoop, which documents the life of his community. The series has already been screened seven times by KykNET.

Ehrenreich sees theatre as a benchmark of a country's health, and laments the prohibitive costs involved. He's paying for the set, costume and advertising of his show out of his own pocket, and he does feel that this is a constraint on his writing. But he's not a man who's ever allowed a challenge to get in the way of his passion.

As far as the play itself goes, I must admit it wasn't my cup of tea, but the audience seemed to enjoy it and there was a constant murmur of laughter throughout.

It's a genial story about two best friends - Gatiepie and his sidekick Skinny - who try to arrange a last jol before Gatiepie's wife returns. And yet the storyline isn't terribly important, since the narrative serves more as a loose frame on which to hang a series of jokes about gangsters, drinking, women and living in the Cape Flats.

At times the play did strike me as somewhat over-acted, but we were possibly sitting too close to the front, and I could imagine that a larger audience would also more easily have absorbed the exaggerated antics of the two performers. Ehrenreich's acting partner Leonard Petersen ("Skinny") was outstanding, and his comic timing and gestures perfectly captured the correct comic tone for this style of theatre.

One reservation which I did have about the show was the use of sound effects. For example, I wasn't sure whether using a very scratchy old telephone sound for the cell phone was meant as a joke, or whether this was simply an easy expedient. In general, the effects were poorly recorded. Of course, this might come down to an issue of cost again, and yet with the technology available today, I'm sure that more detailed effects could have been arranged.

Nevertheless, I do feel somewhat sheepish about this minor criticism, since I really enjoyed speaking to Kevin afterwards, and he did buy me a drink. Yes, I do believe that there is an audience for this show, as the success of the previous four Gatiepies has shown. Ehrenreich certainly succeeds in his main goal, which he says is to "make the world smaail", and there were plenty of smiles in the venue. He's also smiling because he's just heard that his latest Gatiepie has been selected for Oudtshoorn next year, where it will, no doubt, continue to attract a large following.



LitNet: 15 November 2005

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