Theatre review: Cracks in the City

Posted: November 25, 2010 in Theatre & Event Reviews and Interviews

Cracks in the City, review by ASTRID STARK.  Directed by Alan Committie.  Conceived by Marianne Thamm.  Starring Marianne Thamm, Anthea Thompson, Shimmy Isaacs and Anne Hirsch.  at On Broadway until 27 November, at 8.30pm 

Women behaving badly

When you shake four inimitable, bright as meteorites, and clearly a little, you know, loopy, women onto the stage; the result is an eclectic romp and riot.  Marianne Thamm, journalist, columnist and head ‘Crack’, concocted the show which has had its first run in June this year.  Anthea Thompson, Shimmy Isaacs and Anne Hirsch make up the rest of the ‘Crackettes’ who are featured in this fusion of multi-media, music, stand-up and a hilarious journey back into the more peculiar parts of South Africa’s history.  Each of the women write their own material.

Upon her first appearance, Thamm seems to be the sensible voice of reason, directing the events to follow. However, as soon as she’s done with explaining how, ‘the Cracks let the light in’ et al, she flicks on her headlamp and explains that it is actually a Clitoral Positioning System, or a CPS. Men across the planet let out a united sigh of intense relief.  From here-on events are quickly channelled into a rowdy, dirty and very funny spectacle. The show carries a PG18 and I have to admit it is just so much prettier when a woman talks dirty. 

The stand-up acts are interspersed with short sketches, captured by video camera, featuring the various Crackettes in action.  It is a satirical and raucous blend of Monty Python, Women Behaving Badly, and a hint of Absolutely Fabulous; all wrapped up in our eclectic South African culture. 

Anne Hirsch, from Bloemfontein, a place that is more ‘Huisgenoot than Cosmopolitan,’ is a little fireball with her pixie hair style and an exceptional motor-mouth.  She clearly delights in playing with words and stringing sentences and concepts together that will make your head spin.   She won SABC’s So You Think You’re Funny?, Season 2.  Another of her claims to fame is being the only white woman to have ever performed as part of David Kau’s Blacks Only comedy tour. Her humour is intelligent but accessible and just dirty enough to make you squirm a little. 


Shimmy Isaacs and Anthea Thompson bring to the show a wealthy of comedy experience, talent, and their own brand of humour.  Isaacs, the third oldest Crack, pokes fun at some of the cultural diversity between coloureds and blacks, which is kind of politically correct since she is coloured, but it’s still very funny.  She does a hilarious breakdance, and her accurate impersonation of a coloured dude that challenges another to ‘fight dencing’, will shift your spine just a little bit.


Thompson has enjoyed a long and successful theatre and television.  She is fascinating in a creepy sort of way when she acts in a short video skit that has Isaacs as an innocent shopper trying on a bra.  Thompson’s character feels up the shopper in a most unacceptable, lustful manner, and it all ends with the shopper running, devastated, out of the shop. The humour is a bit off but we laugh guiltily and happily along.  It’s been a tough year; who wants to overanalyse anything at this point?  Thompson allows a guest performance by her alter ego, Devina Labuschagne, which has to been seen live to be fully appreciated.


Just when things get a little out of hand Marianne Thamm strolls back on the stage and balances the hysteria with her dry humour.  Who knows where she found the ancient advertisements that she displayed onto the big screen.  In one of the advertisements, a wife feeds her husband a heart-attack inducing amount of pork sausages, which has Thamm’s declaring the wife a covert ANC operative -trying to get rid of the enemy.  It’s a little far-fetched.  Or is it?  The ads are quirky little reminders of how far we have travelled as a species, and as South Africans, over the last few decades. Well not that far actually if you look at some of our headlines today.  Nonetheless, certain improvements in society’s progress may be noted.


Most exhilarating about this show is that the women are not trying to emulate male comedians. Theirs is a unique brand of humour that feels, for the most part, as if unites rather than divides the two sparring sexes. They have found their own brave voices in a society which still for a large part expect us to conform to its chauvinistic ideas of women.   It’s refreshing. The show is hugely accessible to both sexes, all genders, and anyone over the age of 18 or with a convincing fake id – no not really.
*Tickets cost R85 via 0214241194 or Join the Cracks and the City group on Facebook.

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