freak Big Friendly was invited to the opening of this show at The Baxter tonight! I was excited to go anywhere with air-con in this stinky heat, so off we went.

Freak Country is Paul Slabolepszy’s new play, directed by Charmaine Weir-Smith with Antony Coleman, Jerry Mofokeng and Peter Mashigo. I like seeing Jozi exports. It’s great for Slaap Stad to get a bigger slice of the theatre picture.

Big Friendly and I almost freaked out when we discovered that we were sitting in the front row of the main theatre; it really is up close and personal in that big venue. But, because the staging is set quite deep on the stage it was ok.

Freak Country is about this South African boytjie actor who gets stuck in Zim, on his way to a film shoot in the Comores, and his trouble with the authorities there. It’s a pretty grim scenario that is very funny on all sorts of levels. It is satirical, outrageous, clever, witty, farcical and ridiculous. it’s also chilling.

I must say, I really enjoyed the play. Paul Slab is the best guy for writing funny, snappy local dialogue and Anthony Coleman, who speaks triple more than the others, was brilliant at delivering it. In fact, Anthony was brilliant all round. His character was fab. Jerry and Peter give solid enough if a leetle uninspired performances (not their faults at all) that more could have been done with.

So, why did I chew my nails (when I wasn’t laughing)? Because it was a play that from the very first moment I was desperate to direct. I don’t know why, but every once in a blue moon that just happens. I was jealous that Charmaine had directed it and then I spent a lot of time thinking about how I would have done things differently. I don’t think she did a bad job; it just didn’t rock my world. So, I don’t think things were taken far enough. It was all too safe. It was all too glib. Even the action at the end didn’t kick.

I think it’s worth seeing. Even if it’s just for the actor in-jokes which are really, really funny. Just, beware the short run. It ends on the 28th of Feb Capetonians!