BY BILLY SUTER
WHAT does the music of The Beatles have in common with life and times in the South African Defence Force? And what does all that, in turn, have in common with a comedy about a retired bouncer turned motivational speaker?
The answer is Borderline and Break Your Face…two one-man shows headed for Gauteng’s Studio Theatre, at the Pieter Toerien Theatre at Montecasino, Johannesburg.
First up, running from June 22 to July 9, is Borderline, which uses Beatles classics to reminisce about life on the border during war-time in South Africa.
It is said to bring back memories of the loss of home and loved ones, the indoctrination and deliberate obliteration of individuality during basic training, the fear and horrors experienced in action, and, yes, the intense camaraderie which flourished in such adverse circumstances.
Somewhat tongue in cheek, the production is said to take an entertaining look at one naive young man’s journey through this rite of passage… and how the infectious and inspirational music of The Beatles kept his heart and soul together as his perceptions of the world changed.
Directed by Vanessa Harris of Followspot Productions, the show was inspired by her father Dr Steve Harris’s experiences during basic training in the 1970s. These were captured in a segment of his book, Impimpi, published in 2014.
At the National Arts Festival, Cue newspaper said of Borderline: “It might seem a little strange; a musical about serving in the old South African Army set to Beatles music. But the combination works, mainly because of the goofy charm and spectacular singing voice of Pierre van Heerden.
“He can swing from singing a ballad to belting out a rock ’n’ roll number that gets the audience on their feet, all the while dressed in troopie browns and army boots”.
Performances are set for 8pm Wednesday to Friday, 4pm and 8pm on Saturday, and 3pm on Sunday.
Break Your Face is a comedy show starring Robert Hobbs, who wrote it with Greg Viljoen, who directs. The humour is said to be dry, offbeat and a little dark.
“Expect Louis CK meets Ricky Gervais – in Boksburg. But really, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen,” according to a press release.
The show, which runs at the Studio Theatre from July 12 to 23, centres on retired bouncer and now motivational speaker, Brett, who is a man on a mission.
“He is out to help you break your face – the same face that’s been stopping you from realising your full potential. Having recently returned from a journey of self-discovery in Beijing, Brett now shares the break-through revelations that changed his life and led to the revolutionary motivational system that will change yours.”
Performances are at 8pm Wednesday to Friday, 4pm and 8pm on Saturday, and 3pm on Sunday.
Still at Montecasino, note that versatile Ian von Memerty and his dancer wife, Vivienne, are presenting their new show, Synergy, from June 21 to July 2. It will be presented in the Pieter Toerien Theatre.
Performances are scheduled for 8pm Wednesday to Friday, 4pm and 8pm on Saturday, and 3pm on Sunday. Tickets cost R100, R230 and R180.
The show features fab costumes form around the globe, musical arrangements for orchestra by Debbie Quicke and lighting by David Limbert, with Roelof Colyn on keyboards.
Expect song, dance and humour – with the programme variety including I Got Rhythm, Summertime, Embraceable You, nods to the Sherman Brothers (Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, The Aristocrats) and excerpts from Kander and Ebb shows (Chicago, Cabaret, New York, New York).
There are also nods to The Beatles, Stephen Sondheim, and a sequence in tribute to Fiddler on the Roof.
Note that the show is headed for Durban later in the year.
Booking for all shows is at the theatre box-office or at Computicket outlets.