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GROOTBEK (article first published : 2005-09-13)

Think back a moment about your history, your growing up, your community. I did just that at the Catalina Theatre a few nights ago, enjoying the sold-out performance of Marc Lottering talking “kak” in his show, Grootbek.

Grootbek is an hour-long one-man show without interval of engaging, delicious humour. Marc Lottering has the ability to weave characters and distinctive phrases from each of his stories into the overall programme. His costumes are strategically placed on a clothes rail on stage and his costume changes are handled quickly and efficiently.

We meet Merle Abrahams with a doek on her head, sitting on her armchair which is carefully preserved with a dust cover, listening to Malaika’s Llewellyn which is belting forth from her kitchen. Living in Belgravia in the Cape, Merle is married to Dennis and they have a domestic worker who has no regard for the cost of detergents so household cleaners have to be controlled by measuring the containers with a khoki pen. Merle rattles on, as only a tannie can, and makes proud references to her imbuia coffee table and three canary yellow doilies. She believes that the calm attitude of Durbanites can only come from the curry!

Marc mainly pokes fun at issues in the coloured community as well as religion, including jabs at the Pope, and gives a hilarious rendition of He’s got the Whole World in His Hands at the piano. Soccer player Bennie McCarthy gets a mention as someone who should not speak in public and we meet Carla the flight attendant with swinging hair who complains that “Things are not the way they used to be”.

The gags run through home economics, typing and standard grade passes. There is also a very amusing way of remembering the Big Five list, using Marc’s home town of Belhar. We meet the skollie Neville, the gay cousin Tyrone and Travis the party animal who has “no filter between his brain and mouth”. We are taught that disappearing Tupperware can tear families apart if there is no name written on the containers in nail varnish or khoki!

The big C (cancer – not coloured) comes up as an illness that can buy you time with the people you love. Marc suggests that the time be used to say what you want to say now, so you “don’t have to visit John Edwards to cross-over”.

He believes that the sister publication of You magazine should be called Jy!. And here’s a good tip from Marc for entertainers: use Preparation H to remove the bags under your eyes and always remember that fans can change your circumstances.

He deals effectively with people wandering in and out, so be warned: go out during his performance at your peril!

Grootbek runs at Catalina Theatre, Wilson’s Wharf until October 2. Tickets R65 booked through Catalina on 031 305 6889. – Pauline Dalais




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