It started with a beautiful drive from hot, sunny town straight into a wall of mist on Boyes Drive to get to Kalk Bay Books. Of course Big Friendly and I overshot the traffic by an hour and we got to Kalk Bay early enough to have cappuccinosÂ in The Annex, a gorgeous restaurant behind Kalk Bay Books. Melinda Ferguson was also already there. It was the launch of her second book, Hooked, that we were attending. Melinda is one of my oldest and dearest friends so there was much love to go around. I am deeply proud of her and how she has actively and consciouslyÂ made her life beautiful and meaningful. The bookshop was packed to the rafters and Melinda spoke straight from the hip and heart. She was entertaining, frank, outrageous in the most charming way, and she was patient with the many recovering and not so recovering addicts who had a million questions.
Armed with my very own, signed copy of Hooked, we marched down the road to what felt like home! The Kalk Bay Theatre. Man, I love that place. Honestly, I stomped up those stairs into the warm, loving embrace of some of my favourite people in my favourite spot. Now, I absolutely have been a bit theatre-phobic the last while, but I was amped for this show The Sitting Man, written, directed and performed by James Cairns. I saw and loved James in Brother Number, at the Kalk Bay Theatre a coupla years ago.
The Sitting Man is a fantastic one man show. With only a chair on stage to fill the brief of the title, James, by performing a series of characters who are linked by action, slides into a world of South Africans that are immediately identifiable, hilarious and tragic. He is so good at them it almost feels like he is channeling this weird bunch. His accents are spot on. His hands! They change subtly with every character. His face! Now, James has a distinct face, plus his head is totally clean shaven, but every character looked different. He is so adept at playing these human creations of his that he fills them with a rich emotional context, even though we spend so little time with each of them. The story, about a parcel that needs to get taken from Jo’burg to Cape Town, is a teeny bit convoluted, and there is a big, fat loose end that prompted Big Friendly to exclaim “It can’t be over! What happened? What was inside the parcel?” But it is a wonderful vehicle for stringing together these fringe, loser, weirdo men. My favourites were first, the drunk pool player, whose perfect Sotho accent was classic, second, the daggahead, a reminder of more than one smoker from my youth, and then, the poor farmer. James is brilliant, and I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I was sad when it was done! The Sitting Man has a three week run before James switches over to his other one man show Dirt. Do. Not. Miss. This.