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D.O.F. (article first published : 2007-08-16)

From the moment Aaron McIlroy bursts onto the stage at the Heritage Theatre in Hillcrest as Professor Joel Liebenberg with his exuberant opening song The Expanding Universe, you know you're in for an evening of sparkling entertainment with literally a laugh a minute in his very clever and funny script.

The stage depicts a high profile new prison complex, Diep Kaak which is to be opened by a local politician, Connie Naaiman, who is of course predictably late, and in the words of Aaron McIlroy, "Why am I not surprised?" Joel Liebenberg is the Chief Forensics Officer at D.O.F. - The Department of Forensics - and the opening of the prison is to coincide with his lecture demonstration of the department to the assembled students (the audience).

Aaron McIlroy shines in this very cleverly written one-man show. He takes the parts of various people, Connie Naaiman who eventually arrives to give a typical address by a politician in which he hilariously mixes up his speech in the opening of the prison, and several prison inmates, all of whom have been caught by Joel Liebenberg's brilliant forensic analysis. These nefarious characters include Dr Norman Lectum, an effete artist psychologist and alternative lifestyle guru, forever in search of new sources of protein, Pepe "Grande" Gonzales, a vertically-challenged Hispanic drug mule and Veejay Moodley. The accents, characterisation and body movements of these various people are brilliantly portrayed by Aaron McIlroy by means of quick costume and wig changes. His Pepe Gonzales is really brilliant although I thought the best moments in the show occurred when he was acting as the Professor, where his sharp wit really comes to the fore. However, I wasn't as impressed with Veejay who continually protests his innocence and begs his wife to visit him - and bring some food. Polished as the routine was, I felt it tended to pall slightly. This doesn't detract from the overall polished performance and funny script.

It is an added treat to experience the expertise of a comedian who takes advantage of any noise or movement by an audience member without the slightest embarrassment to them and the complete absence of any foul language, thought or deed, the sign of a true artist. This even extends to the treatment of a "volunteer" from the audience as the body for the autopsy lecture demonstration. Also included in the forensics lecture are questions which had been received from the "students" in the audience, for example "How fat do you need to be to be bulletproof?' which are answered in the course of the evening.

Not only is Aaron McIlroy an accomplished actor and author, but he also has a magnificent singing voice, well demonstrated by his treatment of Jailhouse Rock (an obvious choice of song) and The Impossible Dream. I particularly liked his very funny Prison Bitch. Also included in the show are cover song hits by Super Tramp, Monty Python, Enrique Iglesias, Black Eyed Peas, Robbie Williams, Shaggy and Lou Read.

Credit also goes to Steven Stead who co-wrote and produced D.O.F.. I thought this production is Aaron McIlroy’s most entertaining and best one-man show to date. Don’t miss it.

The meals offered are to the Heritage Theatre's continued high standard. The starters are Grilled Peri-Peri Calamari Rings, Soup of the Day and Mozzarella Cheese and Roma Tomatoes Caprese Salad. The main course is a choice of Thai Green Chicken Curry, Grilled Salmon, Brown Mushrooms topped with Feta Cheese and Peppadews over Potato Salad, and the very popular Braised Lamb Shank. There is also the optional extra à la carte choice of a desert of a Cheese Board, Bread & Butter Pudding, Crème Brulee, Heritage Cheesecake, or Chocolate Overdoes, which range in price from R24.50 to R30.

D.O.F. runs from August 14 to September 16 at the Heritage Theatre in Hillcrest from Tuesdays to Saturdays at 19h00 for 20h30 (Sundays at 12h30 for 14h00). Tickets R175 (R150 Tuesdays and Sundays) include a two-course meal and the show. Booking is advised on 031 765 4197. – Maurice Kort




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