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Review: We Didn’t Come to Hell for the Croissants

Review We Didnt Come to Hell for the Croissants
Photo by Dean Hutton

Jemma Kahn, with Roberto Pombo as her docile sidekick, take the audience on a journey of scandal, lust, death and every sinful deed in between. From the macabre to the utterly hilarious, We Didn’t Come to Hell for the Croissants detaches itself from the comfortable and the known and delves deep into a darkly magical world.

Pombo plays the submissive under the domineering Kahn, and is just as eager to swallow her stockings as he is to act as her eccentric assistant. Scantily clad in leather underpants and a sheer leotard, he provides scenes of raunchy relief that intersperse the seven stories.

The play completely reworks the clichéd seven deadly sins, and the performers breathe new life into the tired theme. Rather than focus on obvious renditions of the various sins, they allow them to creep their way into the audience’s minds through peculiar, superbly written stories.

Kahn is a masterpiece in her own right; heavily endowed with confidence and character, she never fails to captivate and thrill. She consistently impressed the audience with her range of accents, articulation, mesmerising stage presence and sheer ingenuity, all of which combined in a melting pot of creative phenomena. (Never mind her tasselled, swinging breasts as the finale.)

I was astounded, not only by the skill of the performers, but by the unique kamishibai (paper play) performance. The use of striking illustrations accompanied by poetically produced stories accumulated to create a wholly different and fascinating experience.

From oddly erotic fantasies of lobster bisque to a beautifully sung story of an upper-class cat, all the tales are artfully brought to life, with Kahn’s wide spectrum of talent allowing them to jump off the page and envelop and titillate the audience. Her ever-changing roles ensure that there is never a dull moment. The sacred Japanese origins of the art of kamishibai are sacrilegiously stripped away and replaced with a contemporary and controversial South African spin likely to displease the monks.

We Didn’t Come to Hell for the Croissants is raunchy and completely odd – a soirée of storytelling meets underground S&M club – but in the most wonderful way., The show is beautifully composed and perfectly performed, and though not for the prudish or the underage, it’s a definite must-see.

Bronwyn-Leigh Knox

We Didn’t Come to Hell for the Croissants ran on 3 & 4 October 2015 as part of The Cape Town Fringe Festival.


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