So somehow this extraordinary, amazing, confusing and totally magical city of ours, Cape Town, has scored itself a guardian, ambassador, spokesperson, critic, teacher, reflector, therapist and rabble rouser, and it is Soli Philander. I have been joining him on Mondays on his internet radio station The Taxi, because I love theatre, and I love talking about theatre, and Soli shares my passion (even though he has many, many others).
When a slot became available at The Kalk Bay Theatre, Soli and his Taxi team took two weeks of it to do Taxi Nights, and I went to witness this last night. Taxi Nights is really a showcase of the young talent that Soli has taken under his wing. These young, fresh people share their skills with the audience in the first half, and there is a guest performer (last night it was the hilarious and hysterical comedian Wayne Mckay, and the last three shows are Gift Gwe, Siv N and Shimmy Isaacs, in that order). In the second half Soli performs some of his favourite female characters from years (and productions) gone by.
Taxi Nights is not slick. It takes full advantage of the intimate space at the KBT and it feels like you are in Soli and Toni (his wife)’s lounge. It’s like being introduced to the voices and names of The Taxi in person. And the experience is warm, funny, touching and even surprisingly shocking and terrifying at times. Eugene Matthews introduced us to everybody, mostly by screaming for them to come on stage (very funny), Ronald Jones sang with a voice like an angel, Christian Bennet did a monologue that was totally extraordinary, Roshan Philander (Wonderbra) spoke a Maya Angelou poem. Toni and the ghaatjie did sound and lights. It was a family affair.
It was a weirdly satisfying night of non theatre at my favourite theatre. I know how much I enjoyed it when I said to my friend that I wished I could get my hands on those kids and work with them, especially Christian. His monologue deserves to be made into a full play.
Soli is a very special man, with special ideas and plans. We Capetonians need to take care of him. He is a most valuable resource.