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Friday, January 20, 2012


(Aaron McIlroy)

Aaron McIlroy’s The Happy Clapper runs at the Hilton College Theatre for a brief season from January 26 to 29 following highly successful runs in Durban and the Eastern Cape.

Co-written and directed by Patrick Kenny, the show poses the question: What are people’s perceptions of Biblical characters? Are they Charlton Heston, coming down a mountain in a dodgy outfit? “The intervention of the media has long played a role in skewing people’s perceptions of Christianity,” says Durban actor Aaron McIlroy, who cites movies such as Steven Spielberg’s The Prince of Egypt, and a host of others, as creating a glossy but fictitious perception of the people who populate the Bible. “The Bible is full of many of the greatest stories ever told. Often enough they have been told badly, so I thought: why don’t I have a shot at telling them badly, too?”

The Happy Clapper speaks alike to those who follow other beliefs, as it does to members of the Christian faith, offering a broad scope of perspectives that aim to enlighten and entertain while treating religious matters in a robust if sometimes tongue-in-cheek light.

“We need to lighten up, and not be so judgemental in dealing with our fellow humans,” says McIlroy. “We can do this by bringing a sense of integrity to our dealings with each other, while at the same time looking at the subject matter that preoccupies us in our worship. We think we are ‘in the know’, while often we are actually clueless. There is so much more than we think there is to gaining a true depth of knowledge. Seen from the outside, there is a stigma attached to being a so-called ‘Reborn Christian’. But how weird is it, actually?”

The Happy Clapper sets out to defuse the myths surrounding charismatic Christians. The first half of the show opens with a run through the Old Testament, courtesy of Mr McIlroy donning the persona of a well-honed Rabbi who is on home turf, sharing elements of his own personal history, so to speak. Following this, the actor morphs into Bluff inhabitant, Gary van Vuuren, who’s a fundi at unlocking all matters pertaining to the New Testament. Trying to put across a complex concept such as The Trinity, he assures us “it’s more than just a girl’s name”. “Gary’s the perfect example of fools rushing in where angels fear to tread,” says McIlroy. “Only, he cracks it more often than he knows. Just when you think he’s heading for the rocks, he nails it right in the centre.”

The show continues with McIlroy’s ubiquitous alter-ego, the ever-popular Veejay, surfacing to offer a guiding hand on how to negotiate your way around the potential hazards of traversing the evangelical Christian world. In his inimitable fashion, Veejay deals with the application of Christianity. As ever, he keeps things really grounded, commenting on those critical taboos that sometimes preoccupy the Church: Sex, Booze and Money.

The Happy Clapper has only three performances at the Hilton College Theatre: January 26 and 28 at 19h30 and January 29 at 14h00. Tickets R85 (R60 teachers and scholars). Early booking is advised on 033 383 0126, or by email at