Darling is a little slice of heaven. It’s little wonder famous South African satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys has made it his home and theatrical base. And where Pieter goes, so goes Evita.
Evita se Perron is the home of Evita Bezuidenhout, Pieter-Dirk Uys’ politically astute and flamboyant alter ego. The ‘Perron’, Evita’s station, is the Old Darling train station converted into a theatre. It offers a colourful entrance, museum and African curios that perfectly set the tone for what’s to come.
Opt to have lunch before the show, a traditional Cape bobotie or a few drinks from the bar, serving wine from local Darling cellars and Darling Brew beer. The decor is a ramshackle conglomeration of paintings, photographs, ceramics, fake flowers, taxidermy, tins, ornaments… Shall I go on? ‘Most of the kak,’ Pieter later confirms, is from a shop in Woodstock. (He tells us this before impersonating the shop owner.)
The decor has its own political innuendos; for example, I had to laugh in the ladies bathroom when PW Botha, on one cubicle wall, stared with great intent at Eugene Terreblanche on the other. Political sides are at odds, even in the ablutions.
The shows staged weekly differ from day to day. We happened to see Pieter Dirk Eish, a show of mixed characters where the audience decides who Pieter should impersonate. He came onstage as himself, introduced us to his space and offered an incredibly honest view of his involvement in theatre. ‘There’s no affirmative action in theatre,’ he confirms, ‘the stage is life imprisonment without parole.’
I must admit, I’m not the most politically savvy South African myself (and a young South African at that, not quite alive and kicking when some of the politicians Pieter so aptly portrays were in power) so I was concerned that some of the jokes would go straight over my head – but this isn’t possible. A show at Evita offers excellent all-round entertainment. It just so happens to have political undertones.
I left Evita se Perron inspired, by the success Pieter-Dirk Uys has achieved in his lifetime, and by how extremely likeable he is. Within his satires, he offers a sense of hope and optimism, using humour as a means to address serious matters. He’s a fighter for freedom of speech, expression and choice, and has always had the fearlessness to stand by this, despite the potential for personal harm. I’m itching to return to Darling again and again (maybe catch Evita in action the next time). I felt proud to be a Capetonian, and immensely proud to be South African.
Photography Courtesy, Lisa Wallace