Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: The Sitting Man

Fine, Fine Dirt


It’s quite weird seeing James Cairns three times in a row on stage. I saw his last show The Sitting Man twice, and last night it was the opening night of Dirt, the second one man show he is performing at The Kalk Bay Theatre. Well, the guy is amazing. Amazing James. I am a bit in love with him for sure. You know when a performer just nails it for you? That’s him.

Dirt has similarities to The Sitting Man that can’t go unnoticed if you see them one after each other, like most of us in the audience did. I have to do a leetle comparison; I can’t help it. One man show, trip down to Cape Town, amazing typical South African characters, brilliant ideas, and everyone (and thing in this case because Tom the dog is vital!) played and made by James. The Sitting Man, however, was all James in that he wrote and directed it as well. Dirt is written by Nick Warren and directed by Jenine Collocot.

Dirt; a road trip with three guys and a dog on their way from Jozi to Cape Town to their poker buddy’s funeral. Soap actor, Jamie …. ag, Sam, who is an egomaniacal ‘me me me’ shagging machine, Grant, the new father who is fast going down that hole of his wife’s obsessive and post-natal depression behavior, and Wayne. Wayne’s name tells you exactly what kind of poor, unfortunate and typical fella he is. Just say “Wayne” with a bit of a whiny Jozi accent. And then there is Tom the dog. I swear, I felt like I knew everybody in this play (and I probably did!). James’ characterisation, timing, detail, and totally wacky observations are classic. I couldn’t take my eyes off him, and Big Friendly said he thought I was having an asthma attack I was laughing so hard.

Dirt is funnier than The Sitting Man, but it is a lot less weird and dark. It’s more ‘written’ than The Sitting Man so it has some razor sharp dialogue from each character, but it is also more complicated and a little less successful because these guys have to talk to each other, so there are times when James has to hop about to be each one of them. Dirt is gorgeously directed by Jenine. I loved the ladder of props that became chapter headings. Loved it.

Ok, ok, I admit it. James Cairns is my new best thing. The guy could do an award winning performance of telephone book reading. Might have to see this one twice too!

The Sitting Man, even better twice

I very rarely see anyone else’s work other than my own more than once, but I really wanted to take my brother to see James Cairns’ The Sitting Man, and so Big Friendly and I took him last night. I was so happy that the Kalk Bay Theatre was almost full. It was great to see folk at the theatre on a Saturday night.

Seeing The Sitting Man again, ten days after the first time, was a treat. James was obviously much more relaxed than he had been on opening night. I picked up a few things he had added, and one or two that he had left out. I was also sitting in a different place, which gives a whole different sense. The show was as engaging, as rewarding and, in places, more funny and moving this time. My brother was transfixed. He sees a lot of theatre and is very perceptive and insightful. He also lives and loves in Jozi, so those Jhb characters were deeply resonant and accurate for him. He was propelled to his feet at the end, and spoke about how brilliant James was all the way home.

There is a week of The Sitting Man left and then James’s new show Dirt opens. I can’t wait.

Hooked and Sitting Man – Two great reasons to be in Kalk Bay

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 cappuccinos 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 consciously 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.

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