First published in The Cape Times: 22 September 2010


Starring:  Sonia Esgueira.  Directed by Heinrich Reisenhofer. at The Theatre on the Bay  until 2 October.   ASTRID STARK reviews

If you think you’re family is uniquely screwed up, and an embarrassment to be seen with in public, you really should meet the Ferreiras.

This family, originally from Madeira, has more dirty secrets, filthy habits, and body hair than the Italian Government.  Mom and dad Ferreira have moved back to Madeira -where nothing happens in large measures – leaving their daughter Paula, and her white trash brother Roy, in charge of their corner shop and granny Maria.  Sparks fly between the Portuguese brother and sister when the unwedded, part-time catholic, Paula finds out she’s pregnant.  Mom and dad returns after they hear via the Porra grapevine of a robbery at the shop and the sparks explode into fireworks when the conservative mom finds out about the baby.  

In Porralicious – The Revenge! Sonia Esgueira returns with the third instalment of her one-woman show about all things Portuguese. She has polished up her characters to a glossy super realistic sheen, and she is not holding back.  The tiny Esgueira plays the rough and tumble Roy with utter conviction. Before your eyes the petite woman is transformed into a hairy, foul-mouthed, aggressive brute. You can almost smell the testosterone mixed with stale sweat and cheap deodorant emanating from this character. He is ugly and rude and we’ve all met someone like him.  Roy is simple minded in his view of the world, brutally honest, and yet somehow he slowly wiggles his way into our hearts as the performance progresses.  Esgueira’s impersonations of the stereotypical Portuguese family are spot on and hilarious. She grabs her crotch and lifts her fist aggressively and before our eyes she’s transformed into a man.   Esgueira drapes a shawl over her shoulder and she becomes the fragile and furious granny Maria who stands wailing at the gate, suitcase in hand, ready to return to Madeira.  The 30-year old Paula has taken 5 pregnancy tests and she is mortified as each one comes out positive.   She lives in holy fear of her quick-tempered mother and seeks redemption within the safety of the confession box with hilarious results as she doesn’t really “get” the whole confession business.  Granny Maria digs through Paula’s drawers, steals a pair of thongs, and thinks the pregnancy test is a thermometer which she proceeds to dip into various orifices.

Apart from the cunning display of her craft the show is also a very entertaining and moving story about life, love , marriage, the catholic church and what it means to be Portuguese in South Africa, or anywhere in the world for that matter.  Esgueira fills the stage with her characters and when the final scene draws to a close we feel as if we have been hanging out with the Ferreira family and we feel a bit sad to say goodbye.

Heinrich Reisenhofer’s direction is fast-paced and at times startling.  It is easy to see why he won four Fleur du Cap and FNB theatre awards for his production of Suip! Reisenhofer also produced, directed and co-wrote the comedy, Joe Barber, which has been running in South Africa for ten years.  Together Reisenhofer and Esqueire have created a very funny and very rewarding performance.

  • The show runs from Tuesday to Saturday 20h00.   Tickets are from R90 to R125.  Bookings may be made with Computicket or at the Theatre Box Office on 021 438 3300

by Astrid Stark

  1. Mornay Schoeman says:

    Your review made this sound really interesting. So going to watch on Friday night. Will let you know if it’s as good as you say! 😉


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