The Pleasance Courtyard (The Attic)
I’m so happy Tats Nkonzo made the long journey to Scotland from South Africa. His show was the comedic version of ‘writing back’; the tradition of early post-colonial writers writing predominantly to challenge the reduction of the colonised to a primitive, narrow stereotype. I’m happy because he wasn’t afraid to challenge his audience and push some boundaries; all the time carrying along the crowd with his capacity to make them laugh, listen and engage with his material. He warmed up the audience immediately by starting with a funny song, and with great delight you realise that he is multi-talented; not only singing, dancing and acting, but playing guitar beautifully to make his comedic but also very serious points. You had a good idea of what was to come by the wicked glint in his eye; that this man was not going to be afraid of pushing the envelope in an attempt to educate his audience.
One of the highlights is his skit on ‘if diseases had an award show’. He does a fantastic impression of Michael McIntyre as a disease, that roused more laughs the longer it went on. He hilariously illustrated the point that the manner in which diseases such as Ebola is covered always has a particular political agenda. He was fantastic at engaging the audience from the start, and equally able to tease a lady from Zimbabwe about her commitment to animal rights after the Cecil the lion fiasco, which morphed into a song sung by the whole room. He managed to get away with teasing a white South African woman in the front row with his anti-apartheid protest dances, which he decided to repeat a couple of times right in front of her, laughing about triggering some ‘bad memories’. He made some excellent points about not relying on either governments or celebrities for solutions for anything, but that we needed to embrace each other one on one. He, at times, became quiet and reflective enough at times that the hush in the room was palpable. He managed to smash to pieces the absurd pedestals on which we tend to place celebrities in a way that had me wiping my cheeks and shaking with laughter.
This show was thrilling, funny and touching all in one. With his glittering eyes and massive energy, he threw himself into it from start to finish. He’s been having to put on extra shows to meet demand, and it’s clear why. Many of the shows I’ve seen recently by people of colour have been invoking the spirit of friendship and togetherness amongst all people in a bid to mend fences and open hearts to one another. As he hugged each audience member on their exit, it seemed especially poignant coming from someone who grew up under apartheid to affectionately hammer home the point that “we’re just like you”. Try and catch the show while you still can; I guarantee that by considering another’s perhaps quite different perspective, you will be reminded about what’s important in life. Mr. Nkonzo, thanks for coming! FIVE STARS
Reviewer : Lisa Williams