South African performer
Zany and whacky. Adjectives like these stick to Kit llollerbach. not just because she is an American comedienne working in Britain. She is a lively. whatever next? performer. In the US.she won an Emmy for writing and acting in a TV comedy show whose cast of five included Whoopi Goldberg.
In previous years on the
Fringe. Kit has performed as a stand up comedienne and been in pOpular improvisation shows at
; TicToc. Dartingacross
i the stage yelling ‘Switch‘. l she would urge the
audience to produce ever
more outrageous suggestions. This year. she has
switched even further and
is appearing in two completely new shows. A! Home with the Hartlys has been developed for the
stage from a programme in the radio series.
Unnatural Acts. ‘Remember the I Love Lucy Show." asks Kit. and then insists ‘At Home With The Hardy's is very modern. it just uses the situation of a couple with whacky neighbours.‘ The husband is played by Kit‘s real husband that very English gentleman. Jeremy Hardy. and the neighbours are Paul B.
Daviesand Caroline Leddy. Writing the script. they wanted to explore the
Pieter-Dirk Uys talks to Mark
Shenton. Plus comedy and cabaret
around the Fringe and prime comedy venues (listed over page).
Protest shows about South Africa are nothing new at the Edinburgh Festival, but Pieter-Dirk Uys. is something different. As a white Afrikaaner. he wears the skin ofthe oppressors and speaks their language (‘a great language. a teenage language whose voice has just broken‘. he says. ‘but which has been wrecked because apartheid and politics have made it the language ofdeath‘). But his is a truly subversive talent. his one-man shows in South Africa making him into something ofa cult figure there. at once outrageous and outraging. In a land where censorship is a ruthless weapon of the state. he has — so far — found himself strangely protected. ‘How long it can go on like this I don‘t know‘, he says. ‘They've got all the laws on their side to stop it. But it‘s just my job to keep going. I must work towards my own redundancy — when apartheid is
.differences in style between English and American behaviour. ‘Jeremy plays a bit ofa stuffed shirt.‘ says Kit. describing English humour as being very wordy and clever whereas American humour depends on acute observation.
Every evening when the show finishes. the Hardys will separate. he to the Assembly Rooms to his solo show. she to start Askingfor Trouble. New songs from 1987 Perrier Award Winners, Jungr and Parker, will be complemented by character monologues from Kit.
Kit loves coming to Edinburgh. This year she hopes to visit the Zoo. ‘1 want to see the penguins.‘ she says. ‘To find out if they know any good jokes.‘ (Norma
merely a footnote to South African history.‘
He is optimistic that this is realisable: ‘If I’m not hopeful. if the only alternative to violence is violence. what‘s the point?’ But. he admits. ‘it‘s a very frightening possibility that we are in for Beirut. fifty years of warfare among the children‘. But he clearly loves South Africa. ‘I try to keep reminding my audience both there and here that being anti-apartheid and being anti-South Africa are different things.’
Meanwhile. he feels that the current restrictions are in fact good for him. ‘They have forced me to find different ways ofsaying things I‘m not allowed to say; it’s exciting to challenge the system. In my last show in South Africa, Cry Free Mandela, I played Joan Collins. who in turn plays Winnie Mandela. as a way of getting around quoting banned books!’ He has. he says. made it his job to learn the laws quite well. ‘so I know where I can set the traps for them. I’ve got to keep the dogs barking at me. and the audience
Traditionally. he premieres each show at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg. where his audience is sometimes 60% black and the atmosphere is more liberal; but then the next step is usually Pretoria. to the 1300 seater State Opera House which, he says. ‘is like playing Fiddler on
the Roofat Nuremburgl’.
There‘s a darker subtext to this; Uys is not only a white Afrikaaner, but Jewish, too, and this results in a kind of schizophrenia. ‘My mother escaped from Nazi Germany; my father belongs to a tribe that is creating a modern alternative to it.‘ But he insists on sticking to the truth. ‘I don‘t
I At Home With the Hardy: Heriot Watt Theatre. (venue 7). 229 3574. 15 Aug—3 Sept (not Suns) Previews 13 & 14 Aug. 4.30pm. £4.50 (£4); I Asking ior Trouble. Heriot Watt Theatre. (details as above) 15 Aug—3 Sept (not Suns) 7.30pm. £4 (£3.50). I Jeremy Hardyis also is on his own at the Assembly Rooms (venue 3) 226 2428/7. 12 Aug—3
Sept. 10pm. £4.50 (£3.50).
DEAD MARILYN ‘Isn’t this place just wonderful’. enthuses Dead Marilyn grinningin the halflight and talking in hushed tones. We are in ‘The Grave‘. his favourite London pub. an oasis of gloom on Whitechapel high street.
Thankfully. the dead one has arrived incognito. ‘I‘m just a bald headed man really‘ he confides. and it is true without the stage costume oftorn
Marilyn Monroe dress. mud splattered wig and rotting ﬂesh. Peter Stack does look considerably less like his decomposing heroine. As it is. however. I‘m not surprised when he tells me his acting ambitions. ‘I’d like to play positive supernatural beings. You know. like you can be a vampire hunter. but you have to know vampires. I want to play beings that seem threatening but are not. I want to play angels.‘
This though is only a ﬂeeting dream and quite unlike the Marilyn Monroe obsession he indulges currently and has had since he was a child. ‘Dead Marilyn is a man with a problem which is that Marilyn won‘t leave him alone'. he explains. but he is horrified at the idea of exorcising her ‘I wouldn’t want to lose the closeness we have together.‘ His gigs are intended to communicate her revenge against Hollywood through a series of hard hitting rock numbers with titles like ‘Say Good-Bye to The President’. “Jackie (Onassis) has a Photo‘and ‘Empty Stomach’ (about the lost autopsy report).
Quite apart from the controversial lyrics. the concept of an exhumed and ranting Marilyn has angered the Monroe estate, who have appealed to Twentieth Century Fox to uphold its copyright on
add noughts for effect. It‘s tempting to say it‘s like the Nazis. killing six million; but it’s enough if the system kills just one.‘ He is careful. too. not to alienate audiences totally: ‘1” tell South Africans that they‘re living in a culture of death. they‘re going to stay at home and watch Botha or Dallas — so I've got to be devious in my seduction of people who are not necessarily on my side.’
But he does try to get out of South Africa at least once a year — ‘basically to find out how crazy I‘ve become there‘. It also helps him to find a standard. He is aware that it is relatively safe to do a show criticising apartheid in Britain. ‘in a society which subsidizes protest‘. but he warns that we must be on our guard: ‘Apartheid is catching. and it can ﬂourish too in a climate without sunshine. like here. Not that one wants to make comparisons. but we‘ve just made a tremendous success of it, basically; I can see many politicians peering over our walls and thinking. Hello. how have they done it?‘
‘The government writes my scripts.‘ says Uys. and he has. in fact. just published a book called PW Botha in his Own Words. a collection of 500 contradictory quotes straight from the man’s mouth. Likewise in his show he lets PW Botha — and Margaret Thatcher — speak for themselves. The show. like the country it celebrates and criticises. has to adapt or it will die. He constantly brings it up to date. varying it ‘from town to town, from year to year. from crisis to crisis!‘. The 1988 edition should be unmissable. (Mark Shenton). I Adapt or Dye Pieter-Dirk Uys, Traverse Theatre (venue 15) 226 2633. 16—21 Aug. 9.30pm. £5 (£2.50 at Traverse only).
her name and dress. Fox have told Stack to ‘cease and desist‘ in his portrayal but to no avail. ‘I don‘t care. They could indict me but I doubt they would go that far. I resentthem telling me I‘m taking advantage of her image when that is what they are doing.‘ Far from toning down his act in order to improve his image with the estate. he is waiting for a time when he will feel more charitable to them. ‘She‘s buried under a parking lot and it is disgusting. I want to start a fund through a bank to raise around £250.000 toward a memorial for her - maybe pink marble and stained glass with a beautiful statue in it. and large enough for one person to go in at atime and have their moment. If the estate would match that amount I think I‘d feel better towards them.’ (Stephanie Billen)
I Dead Marilyn Calton Studios (venue 71 ) 556 7066. 13-20 Aug. 11pm. £4 (£3); The Pleasance (venue 33) 556 6550. 21-27 Aug. 10.30pm; 28 Aug-3 Sept. 4.30pm. £4 (£3) [Fr]
Paul Merton is not superstitious; if he was he wouldn’t have been in Edinburgh this summer. Last year the comedian received a rave ﬁrst night revue from Festival Times only to find himselfunable to continue the run. ‘I was
playing football and I fell over and broke my leg. It was a bad break so I had to withdraw from the show.‘ This year with a show bravely entitled Break a Leg. Merton is aimingto get through the Festival ‘without mishap or death‘. Besides that he is using his Assembly Room slot to try out a wealth of‘new stuff’: ‘The flavour is different from before‘ he says. ‘Ifyou go through a trauma whether its breaking a leg or your parents dying. it does make you a different person. . .The humour won‘t necessarily be any blacker — it was fairly
16The List 12— 18 August 1988