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“The Fall is not only a fresh in-your-face piece of theatre, it is a command for attention and a plea for support.”

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“Tan’s lyric playing was beautiful and expressive. He almost coaxed a tear from my dry eyeballs, but looking at his Stevie Wonder grin, any notion of sadness was dispelled.”

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Brought to life by a relatively young power-cast, namely Faniswa Yisa, Emily Child, Roeline Daneel, Joanna Evans, Dobs Madotyeni, Francis Chouler and Zanele Radu, the ensemble piece details the lives of each character and his or her place in the classic South African story of struggle and espionage, detention and resistance.

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If you’re getting to the “been there, done that” stage of boozy weekend festivaling, then Spiritfest may just be the breath of fresh nicotine-free air that you’ve been looking for.

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The amphitheatre is set amongst towering eucalyptus trees, their gorgeous, bark-peeling trunks stretching up into the clear blue sky, their elongated leaves casting dappled shade over the tiered seating. There’s plenty of space to spread picnic blankets, and wooden tables around the top tier, behind which a number of stalls serve an array of delights.

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The dark woods and earth tones in the décor, the jar-lined walls, the wooden boards heaped with fresh-baked artisan bread, and the lilting Italian music in the background all call for a slow enjoyment of these “lifestyle and leisure wines”.

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This is far more than rows of cat and dogs in cages. This is a one-stop shop for all pet owners, animal lovers or parents wanting an unusual outing for their kids.

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It became increasingly clear that song and dance are exceedingly productive media with which to explore South Africa’s rich history. Certainly Hamlin had no reservations about airing her personal views – a refreshing change to the political correctness, or lethargy, of much of contemporary society.

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Brilliantly executed in charcoal, some of the faces are of real people, others imagined; all have been photographed so that acclaimed artist, Richard Smith, can keep reworking them – he carefully builds up, erases, puts back… I found myself standing close up to the huge pictures (typically well over a metre in height) staring in admiration at the huge detail and technical brilliance of each face, and marvelling at their impact.

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For its first run in Cape Town in 4 years, and with a line up of comedians such as David Kau and Marc Lottering, this show should have been one big laugh. And it was a big laugh – funny to loyal fans but laughable to others. Blacks Only fell short.

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The five dancers’ movements both match and contrast to the composition of the music, and their sinister and fierce glares penetrate the audience, making us feel that they are looking at and communicating with each of us personally. The talent and ability of each of the musicians and dancers are remarkable, and with such a small cast and intimate theatre setting, it is easy to be aware of the flair of the individual. Grant van Ster’s hulking frame, deep glares and powerful movements dominate the stage, particularly in his twisted floor-based solo surrounded by the other dancers standing motionless behind partially transparent glass. The effect of this scene is beautiful and, simultaneously, devastatingly lonely and ghostly.

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Mimi dying in the bohemian surroundings of an artist’s flat in Paris can easily be translated to the tragic death of a young South African in the poor surroundings of a township and in the company of her friends.

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Dining at Chandani is a sensory experience, which begins with welcoming rose petals strewn outside the entrance and ends with a traditional pan masala – a fragrant bouquet of tiny herbs and spices to freshen the breath.

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Whether recounting the historic events of 1834 or going through the everyday rituals of Xhosa civilization, his enthusiasm does not wane. But Smith, a brash and foul-mouthed ageing white man who is often carried away on a volatile wave of euphoria and often misunderstood, is an unlikely poster child for patriotism.

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To describe a valley as ‘nestling’ is a little trite, but this village – just over an hour north east of Cape Town – is bordered on three sides by mountainous nature reserves which are often topped by snow in the winter. Many of the whitewashed houses have heritage status and the roads are lined with trees. On clear nights, the stars are so bright from here that it is possible to make out the centre of the galaxy. Peacocks wander down the road and everybody greets each other. Yip, it’s a little slice of heaven.

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What Cape Town needs is more original performances like Little Dragon and less pretentious indie bands 3 years behind the international music trends.

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‘I don’t do murder, I do business’ comes the unsparing and blunt salute to reality. Much like the receding hairline of a certain business mogul, the line between right and wrong has become frighteningly evasive. And no high-priced toupee can solve the problem.

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And there is real emotion from the boys of Chevelle: Pete Loeffler (lead and guitarist), along with a few dudes who had been viciously head banging just a few minutes before, got quite teary when he introduced his current favourite song to perform, ‘Piñata’.

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Generally speaking, theatre is an art in which an air of insight is present amongst the cast, while the audience waits patiently in anticipation. But with improvisation, when everything from storylines to character profiles are made up on the spot, all barriers between actor and spectator are broken down.

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