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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

THE END IS NAAI (article first published : 2004-07-5)

Pieter-Dirk Uys, South Africa’s leading satirist celebrates his 28th year of performing at the National Arts Festival with The End is Naai.

Although Uys presents a host of characters we have become familiar with and resurrects many of his favourite one-liners, the material comes across as new and interesting.

I have seen this show before but found this version more focused and engaging. Playing to a sold-out audience he took us on a retrospective journey through the last 20 years of South African politics, fearlessly lampooning politicians past and present.

With a minimum of props and an enormous South African flag as a backdrop Uys bulldozes through a cast of characters that includes PW Botha, Pik Botha, Desmond Tutu, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Nkosazana Zulu, Manto Tshabala-Msimang, Nelson Mandela,Thabo Mbeki and his own ‘family’ of Mrs Fine and South Africa’s most famous white woman, Tannie Evita.

A simple hand gesture, a facial expression, a posture and Uys embodies his characters entirely. His disdain for the shenanigans of politicians is always to the fore, his wit razor sharp. It is a marvel how this comedian escaped the wrath of the Apartheid regime without being detained and accidentally slipping on a bar of soap and falling to his death from the 14th floor of some prison.

Highlights of the show include Mrs Fine’s difficulties in adopting an orphan with AIDS, his attempts at getting two renegade false eyelashes to stick to his eyelids, and a disgruntled Pik Botha fuming at being mistaken for Saddam Hussein.

The only sketch that did not work was a conversation between Uys as PW Botha and a dummy representing Thabo Mbeki. It is clearly a recent addition to the show and seems under-rehearsed. Added to this, is the fact that Uys is required to act as a ventriloquist, and sometimes seems out of his depth. The sketch seems out of place with the rest of the production and could be excised.

This minor quibble aside, The End is Naai is entertaining as well as informative theatre and should not be missed. If you are at the National Arts Festival make every effort to see this gem before it is sold out.

Even if it means trading your mother for a ticket! – Clinton Marius




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