On a minimalist set, Uys takes the audience through a side-splitting yet thought-provoking tour of our turbulent timeline. He agilely somersaults through the spectrum of the aged architects of Apartheid with satire that exceeds mere stereotype.

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Festival headliner Caiphus Semenya kept the spirit up and even got the crowd to sing a verse perfectly – even though some of us didn’t understand a word. But the performance highlight from this leading South African composer, musician and singer was a jam with his guitarist. An exchange of enthralling guitar riffs and vibrant vocals made for a catchy sound and a packed City Hall went nuts.

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It’s no wonder WWE fans in the States are addicted to pay-per-view. A packed arena, a WWE Smackdown ring, bright lights, thundering music and WWE Superstars walking out from backstage, a mixture of the modern gladiator and a fair amount of soap opera melodrama.

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I’ve seen launches of second albums in this very venue that did not draw such a packed crowd. Highlights were the beautiful new single ‘Daydream’ and a song penned by drummer Josh Klynsmith, ‘Don’t Let Me Go’.

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Naturally one cannot take a glass of whisky out of the festival, but you can hardly down a glassful either. The door guard’s solution? Go to the toilet and throw it down the sink. It somehow took the glamour out of the occasion. To recap: go early, sign in for all the cool events, and don’t leave with a single drop in your glass. And if all else fails hand over all you coupons for Mr Blue…

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Created by the legendary Hugh Masekela who also stars in the show, songs of Migration tells the stories of migrant workers who left their homes and their loved ones to work in the mines in Johannesburg and other mineral rich towns of South Africa.

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Cape Town is cooking and my otherwise pale and blotchy legs are now complemented by orange streaks of fake tan. In this regard, I remain resolutely British. True Capetonians blossom in the summer. Endless lithe and perfectly bronzed bodies roam about, relaxed and laughing. Even their hair remains shiny and tangle-free whereas mine sticks out in small frizzy clumps where I’ve repeatedly got it caught in my sunglasses. [Read more…]

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Initially I felt almost guilty at Breyani. I felt a bit like a peeping tom looking in on a jam session. Then David Kramer walked on stage with his big smile and his trademark hat and I immediately felt welcome…

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In nature, wind is a great factor in seed sowing. It’s a little more troublesome when the Sowing the Seeds in question is a music festival. And not just any festival but the taster for the first big annual festival of the summer-to-come, Rocking the Daisies.

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As a kid at the circus with my dad and my brother, I remember the feeling of being a little person in a big world of all things magical. This Easter weekend I found myself asking whether it would be possible to rekindle that feeling of magic as I headed back to the circus, this time as a grown up.

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Peachy Keen took the stage to a packed Mercury and immediately had the crowd dancing to a series of pop-esque rockabilly jams from their new album, Backseat Bingo.

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By the time the suspects start sweating under the heavy lights of the interrogation room, the plot of Tannie Dora Goes Bos will strongly remind one of the works of Agatha Christie. Many may also recognise the influence of Quentin Tarantino, particularly his Kill Bill films. But that is all it ever remains, an influence. It never dictates the tone nor imitates the style. Above all, this play is distinctly South African.

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Schmid draws on his personal experiences living in South Africa with hilarious results. While not every joke is side-splitting, many are the kind that worm their way into your memory, eliciting smiles weeks later. I’ll certainly never look at a seal in the same way again.

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It’s all about equality and standing one’s ground, pitting female against male, to challenge one another and test the waters. At one particular point the male dancers lie in a straight line and then the female dancers purposefully run towards them and launch into a breathtaking leap before being miraculously caught. This is undoubtedly the highlight of the whole show, as the gasps in the audience will attest.

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The late afternoon sun gleams over the Atlantic Ocean with the Twelve Apostles looming majestically over the waves. Throw in some good old Mother City breeze, a terraced lawn shaded by pomegranate trees, the right time of day, and you get the perfect sundowner venue.

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The band took us back to songs that started their walk to fame just a few short years ago, an also threw in some new material. There is a distinct Brazilian influence in some of their songs, no doubt a product of Jsomething’s Portuguese heritage. But even as the hips sway to the salsa beat, the feet want to stomp to the undercurrent of African rhythm.

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Do not be fooled by the title – there is nothing festive about Playland. It is raw, dark and disturbing. And it is also possibly some of the best and most unsettling acting I’ve seen in a while, especially from Albert Pretorius. His Gideon is a vision of a how war can break a man beyond repair, of a tortured soul trapped in purgatory.

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The moment his bow and strings collided it was if darkness had engulfed all else but him. It was Mintz and his violin. Everyone else centered their all on Mintz, as Kuchar and the CPO moulded and sculpted a rich, voluptuous soundscape for him to dance his chords about in. What a wonderful feeling to see this man on our stage. The places he must have seen, the people he must have accompanied, and he was there, on our Cape Town stage. The CPO glowed with the honour at playing beside such a legend, and performed Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op.64 with grace, verve and an undying love for the purity of orchestral sound.

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Pants on Fire is not your average stand-up comedy show. It’s a bit like a live 3D TV show in your front room. A constant dialogue passes back and forth between the two hosts and they continually include the audience. There are no pretences, no expectations – just the feeling of community and fun.

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But even more than all this, what set Artmode apart from other events and exhibitions in Cape Town’s creative frenzy was its aim not just to make the art accessible but to make the artists themselves accessible. The general perception of artists is that they hide away in a tiny studio, keeping to the company of clay and canvases and classical music. Artmode set out to bring this wonderful group of magic makers into the public space.

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A magical and fun production, perfect for the festive season. Veronica Paeper’s choreography picks up on the nuances of Prokofiev’s famous score, retelling the iconic story with clarity, beauty and humour.

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The energy of his songs and his banter was palpable, and his comforting voice rolled from one song to the next, ranging from gentle vibrato to raw and bold quavers. He can even parody an operatic soprano, spotlessly at that. He made the songs we all know a whole new experience by playing around with the lyrics and the sound to suit the context. His mistakes melted in and became humorous elements to the conversation of the show.

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In the role of Noach, Lee-Ann van Rooi’s bellowing voice never fails to captivate the audience, its sturdiness resonating with her character’s refusal to give up hope and her will to remain sane and structured. Dannelene is a strong character that is only strengthened by van Rooi’s powerful stage presence. Her failure to falter, her insistence to retain and repeat her memories, and her undying Christian faith all come together as the guiding force that kept her afloat in times of engulfing trauma.

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The audience is treated to Contemporary, Ballet, Flamenco and African Dance pieces, all of which showcase the impressive versatility of the dancers as well as giving credit to the training of the teachers and choreographers at DFA.

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Sugar and spice and all things nice, that’s what great weekends are made of. Add a dash of good company, a picturesque setting and a beautiful winter’s day to the mix and you have a sure-fire recipe for decadent success.

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‘Exodus’ is the first narrative Hip Hop dance work I’ve seen that maintains the energy and streetwise “cool” synonymous with hip hop while at the same time being gut-wrenchingly moving. The choreography is outstanding, drawing you inexorably into agony and grief before pushing you into the energy of revolution, so much so that the audience was cheering and eventually on its feet before the piece had even ended.

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The band went straight into a driving groove initiated by enthusiastic drummer Bruce Cox, followed by bassist Dwayne Dolphin looking as calm and laid back as if he was relaxing at a seaside resort. Guitarist Reggie Ward and pianist Peter Madsen followed suit. Then Wesley blared into action, shooting off a couple of melodic ideas, which were coupled by the powerhouse horn section. The horns – Wesley, trumpeter Gary Winters, and tenor saxophonist Phillip Whack – created a full body of sound that left a lasting dent on your musical soul. The section had an immense sense of dynamics, control and balance; even the way they bent and scooped notes in unison was impressive.

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