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BIG STAKES AND SLAP CHIPS (article first published : 2002-08-3)

Marc Lottering has to be one of the most innovative and individual stand-up comedians to move into the South African theatre of comedy. With wild hair, flailing arms and Kaapsetaal, he takes the mickey out of the coloured community to the delight of one and all.

Currently appearing in the Playhouse Drama, he presents his one man show Big Stakes and Slap Chips which is directed by the inimitable David Kramer who understands the indigenous Cape humour so well. Lottering is a consummate and imaginative storyteller and the show’s title is a play on words as his content in this instance has much to do with gambling and casinos.

The title also gets to be produced in music and the award-winning Lottering proves that he’s no slouch when it comes to presenting a self-accompanied entertaining song. I found it frustrating that we only got to enjoy two songs when the show does cry out for more variation. However talented or brilliant a performer, an hour and three-quarters without interval can verge dangerously on too much of a good thing. Although, this was obviously not the feeling of the rest of the audience who responded to Lottering’s fun and nonsense with screams of delight.

The show features a range of characters. There’s Colleen, the girl at Till No.7. Garrulous in the extreme, she harangues her customer to separate her wares into the proper groupings while addressing “Bronwen” nearby with much gossip and complains about the store management.

Then there’s the about-to-be emigrant Lorna Du Plooy - pretentiously accented, smooth black bob and elegant black top and pants - talking to her shop assistant Fatima. They’ve worked together about 17 years and she promises to contact Fathima once she gets to Australia, only Fathima must just remember to tell Lorna what her surname is before she leaves.

Bound to a wheelchair, Travis is an opportunist par excellence, using his disadvantaged situation to the fullest potential … until the tables are turned.

Galatia Geduldt, a red headed hairdresser from Grassy Park, relates her first experience in a hotel room with a lover. And she’s got the photographs to prove it – although the subject matter of the pics have more to do with the bathroom fittings than the sexual encounter.

Souped up, hyped up and probably doped up, Smiley is a taxi gaartjie with an attitude. Streetwise and argumentative, he’s only interested in having good-looking women in his vehicles!

The final character is the suffocatingly genteel Auntie Merle Abrahams from Belgravia Road watching the rest of the congregation file in to church, more interested in the fact that her companion knows that she and her husband donated the glass pulpit than in the religious aspect of her surroundings.

The skilfully designed and effective set represents fanned out playing cards with a gigantic dice which splits up into various structures to depict a hairdressing salon, church pew or casino table.

Big Stakes and Slap Chips runs at the Playhouse Drama Theatre until August 10. The show is not suitable for persons under 16. Book at Computicket or Dial-A-Seat on 031 369-9444. – Caroline Smart




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