BWW Reviews: Compelling Comedy with Martin Evans in FBPK at the Kalk Bay Theatre
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by David Fick
I have watched more comedy shows in the past 18 months than I have in my whole life. Between Cape Town and the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, I have seen shows by, amongst others, Oskar Brown, Daniel Friedman, David Newton, Siv Ngesi and Pieter-Dirk Uys. In fact, as the opening of FBPK rolled around, I was wondering whether I needed a break from comedy. As it turned out, this show, by Martin Evans, turned out to be the best of the bunch.
FBPK, an abbreviation which is explained during the evening’s entertainment, stems from an experience Evans had whilst driving home from the Canal Walk Shopping Centre on a Yamaha Zuma, in which he was blown about by that infamous wind known as the Cape Doctor and accelerated into a wall. This accident turned out to be something of a game change for Evans, whose experiences in state hospitals, during his lengthy recuperation at home and of life after the accident form the basis of the show.
One of the best things about Evans is the sense of identity that filters through his delivery. The best comedy work that I have seen over the past year or two is work where the artist takes the stage and says, "I know who I am." Timing, wit, being funny on your feet: these are all marks of a good comedian, and qualities that Evans has in spades – but with all the technical skill in the world, a comedy show can fall flat when the person on stage simply has no idea who he is or why he is there. This is not a problem for Evans. The persona he projects is casual and unaffected as he steers the audience through stories about unusual hospital ward mates, watching episodes of the popular Afrikaans soap opera, SEWENDE LAAN and hunting trips foisted upon him on the road to recovery. When Evans is on stage, he feels like your buddy. He has the audience in the palm of his hands and the semi-circular setup of the Kalk Bay Theatre makes the whole thing feel rather warm and communal. Everyone is in the same boat and we are all rooting for this little Anglo-African as he faces the trials and tribulations of external fixators.
Evans has a knack for using words to create vivid imagery that lives on in your imagination long after the show is over. His descriptions of the accident itself, of his VW Autovilla (in which he recently competed on South Africa’s version of the hit international show, COME DINE WITH ME) and of the action that inspired the name of his show are unforgettable. I may spend the rest of my life nursing a fear of men with big hands and I have Martin Evans’s various descriptions of the PK to thank for that. On the other hand, Evans was so persuasive about the way he was able to find inspiration in the experience of his FBPK, that I might have to seek one out just to see for myself.
After all, it is the inspiration that Evans found following the accident that grounds this show and pulls it together. Specifically, Evans talks about his rediscovery of Afrikaner culture and Afrikaners themselves following some rather melodramatic experiences during his upbringing in Alberton and a sojourn in Port Elizabeth that may or may not have been as traumatic as all that. Universally, it points to that part of our human journey that becomes more and more difficult in our technically driven world: the need to connect with the people around us and to value them for who they are. We may all be South African, but that does not mean we are homogenous. Indeed, it should not: rainbows are beautiful not only because they are a representative of the full spectrum of colour, but also because those colours are distinct even as they co-exist in harmony. I think that this is ultimately what made FBPK so successful for me: the show did not rely solely on being funny; it also had a heart. And the balance between the two is just about perfect.
FBPK (which carries an age restriction of 16) runs at the Kalk Bay Theatre from Wednesdays to Sundays until 25 November. Tickets for the show only cost R95 and bookings can be made online on the Kalk Bay Theatre website. Guests can also enjoy a delicious a la carte meal before the show, with coffee and dessert afterwards, when they can meet Martin.