Theatre review: F.A.K. Songs and Other Struggle Anthems

Posted: September 14, 2010 in Theatre & Event Reviews and Interviews

First Published in Cape Times: 13 September 2010-09-14


Starring:  Pieter- Dirk Uys and his Bokkie Band musicians: Heather Roth on flute and sax, Rayelle Goodman on violin, Mac McKenzie on guitar and Hilton Schilder on percussion.
Musical direction and arrangements: Godfrey Johnson at The Fugard until 18 September   ASTRID STARK reviews

It’s dirty, offensive and very, very funny.  Bambi Kellermann is at it again as she unleashes her satirical tongue on our apathetic stance on the exploding AIDS epidemic and the bad old Apartheid days which are still detectable as a bad smell lingering in the dark corners of our society.

Bambi is a former stripper – she loved her job – and sex worker.  Today she runs a wine cellar, otherwise known as a brothel, in Paarl.  She tells a gritty story of her life as the wife of a Nazi officer and hanging out with the likes of Josef Mengele; drawing powerful comparisons between the Nazi regime and our own phenomenally successful Apartheid campaign.   Bambi goes so far as to compare our slack attitude towards AIDS to the murder of millions of Jews, warning us that in a few years we will have a genocide of sorts on our hands when we finally wake from our self-inflicted stupor. 

Bambi, like her sister Evita Bezuidenhout, is one of our National Treasures but that’s where the similarity ends. Whereas Evita is a graceful Dame and an upstanding citizen, Bambi’s past is littered with drunken orgies in seedy hotels.  Bambi’s husband’s ashes sits inside a cocktail shaker on the piano as she, with dry humour, recalls their abusive relationship.  She finally ends up with a scraping of his ash under one of her blood red nails which she blows in to the audience in answer to his endless requests for blow jobs.  Pieter-Dirk Uys’ Bambi slaughters sacred cows with her sharp wit and bombastic personality.  Bambi’s story is told through songs and narration in English, Afrikaans and German.  The F.A.K Songbook, Federasie van Afrikaanse Kultuurvereniginge, gets ripped to pieces, re-arranged, and spiced up with bloodthirsty vulgarity and embarrassingly true lyrics containing all the sad sordidness and joy of the human condition.  The song, Ou Tante Koba,  is turned into a tale of female abuse when Tante Koba is born legless in Witbank and her husband uses her to sweep the floors – among other things.  The innocent, Wat Maak Oom Kalie Daar?  becomes the anthem of a man that abuses all creatures great and small .  Underneath the thin veneer of vulgarity lies Pieter-Dirk Uys’ scathing social commentary on the perpetual abuse of children and women in our country.  Inbetween giggles and gags Bambi pauses and addresses the audience, “Speak to your children.  If you don’t, someone else will. And you will lose them.”  Bambi tartly says that she only goes to Europe to top up her anti-retrovirals and that she considers herself lucky to be able to use her voyager miles to this effect.  What of the millions in South Africa that can’t afford this? The current strikes are not helping matters either, Bambi reflects.   Kurt Weill’s Mac the Knife becomes a sartorial dedication to the infamous Jackie Selebi as Bambi snarls, “Jackie’s back in town…”   A beautiful tribute to Marlene Dietrich transforms Bambi into a mournful cabaret singer.

Godfrey Johnson’s musical direction and arrangements tightens Bambi’s angst, sadness and cracking humour into a tight and brilliant performance piece.  He should be writing scores for Tim Burton films. He actually makes Hansie Slim and Hoe Ry die Boere sound like a warped blend of Adams family anthems and a saucy drag show routine. It is brilliant and he peaks as he simultaneously assaults the keyboard and piano with his flying fingers.  

Bambi and the Bokkie Band

Bambi and the Bokkie Band

The Bokkie band adds to the intimacy and live feel of the performance.  Mac Mackenzie’s arrangement and performance of D Major Ghoema feels fresh and exciting.  Notable is the violin of Rayelle Goodman under the strict direction of Godfrey Johnson.  Her performance is quirky and expressive. 

Bambi carries a PG10 restriction and is sure to shock prudent theatre goers, Nazi supporters, women beaters, AIDS denialists, and the apathetic man on the street.   Bambi is a gift from Pieter-Dirk Uys that we should treasure while we still have her with us.

  1. Mornay Schoeman says:

    Went to watch this, was awesome. Thanks for the lovely review. Nice to pick shows to go watch when you know they are going to be good!


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