Review: Die Leo’s

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Most families have a black sheep and if you don’t think your family has one then it’s most likely you. This does not always mean a family member who is completely delinquent; it’s just one member that stands out from the rest. In the Leo family there are four of them. None of them seem to fit into what should be a traditional Afrikaans nuclear family of four.

I would follow Sandra Prinsloo to the ends of the earth, if only she was on Twitter. On Thursday night it was to the middle of Voortrekker Street for Wordsmith’s Theatre Factory’s Die Leo’s at the The Bellville Civic Centre.

Die Leo’s is translated into Afrikaans from Nicky Silver’s Broadway play The Lyons. The story unfolds around Ben Leo’s cancer death bed in hospital. His wife Linda (Prinsloo) is planning a major make over for the house from magazines while his two children, Lisa (Erica Wessels) and Koert (Jacques Theron) have no idea what is going on.

F*k, maar hulle vloek baie in die produksie. Is it too f***ing much or does it add to the narrative? For one thing it is moer funny. It is as if translator and director Hennie van Greunen went down the list of Afrikaans swear words and invented a few new ones of his own. If you’re easily offended by curse words stay away, don’t even cross the boerewors curtain for the next week. If not, then hearing Sandra Prinsloo swearing, all dolled up in over applied suburban kerk tannie makeup, is a real treat.

Tobie Cronje is brilliant at playing a narky character. His face is so expressive that he only needs to pull it at a certain angle and you’ll feel his unhappiness even if he should use a sunshine voice. Top that off with a super irritable tone and you have the perfect storm of one ticked off man.

Francois Griebenow summed up the play perfectly at Theatrescene Cape Town’s TweetSeats:  “Die lewe is kort. Connect. #dieleos” (Life is short. Connect.) In the end all the characters do find a way to connect in their own dysfunctional way.

Die Leo’s is funny, it’s sad, it’s just a little too much. It is just the kick in the backside that the nonexistent theatre scene in Cape Town’s northern suburbs needs.

by Jana van Heerden

Die Leo’s runs at the Bellville Civic Centre from 9-17 May 2013. 

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