I was expecting a large helping of slapstick with a dash of spice from Pay Back The Curry!, which opened at the Baxter Theatre on Tuesday, and was delighted to be served a feast of sophisticated satire.
The sketches and references were so fresh that it felt like playwright Mike van Graan might be cooking them up in a kitchen behind the stage. But the creative team, which includes producer Siv Ngesi and director Rob van Vuuren, would have had little time for chopping and dicing on the night.
Actor Daniel Richards served the courses at lightning speed, with changes between skits coming almost as fast as he changed persona, accent, gender, sexuality, you name it, to play a diverse cast of characters in every scene.
He transitioned smoothly throughout between such roles as a high-speed commentator (in South Africa’s horse race of an election) and the country’s Number One subject of ridicule, without ever so much as dropping a fork.
This is more than absolutely cracking comedy. It is razor sharp satire that delivers thought-provoking commentary with a double order of belly-laughs on the side. Its timely arrival, coinciding neatly with the start of a new stage in South Africa’s democracy, reminded me that a new era has arrived for the rainbow nation.
Pay Back the Curry! is showing at the Baxter Theatre’s Golden Arrow Studio until August 27, followed by a run at the Kalk Bay Theatre, from August 30 to September 10. – African News Agency (ANA)