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Wednesday, November 19, 2014


(Aaron McIlroy & Andy Turrell. Pic by Val Adamson)

The announcement of a new show from comedian Aaron McIlroy traditionally spells a Red-Letter Event on the entertainment calendar for thousands of fans. The epithet ‘Red’ takes on a special significance in the case of the popular star’s latest stage escapade, The Ranga, to be seen over the festive season at the Playhouse in Durban.

Presented by MacBob Productions in association with The Playhouse Company, an Agency of the Department of Arts and Culture, The Ranga is a new one-man comedy written and performed by madcap McIlroy.

Originally directed by Steven Stead for the 2014 Hilton Arts Festival, this musical comedy takes a tongue-in-cheek look at prejudice as seen through the eyes of a man tormented with pigmentation issues.

The word ‘Ranga’ is derived from ‘Orang-utan’ (red haired monkeys) and is a term used to describe people with varying shades of red hair, from strawberry blond to auburn.

In The Ranga, McIlroy, in his inimitably whacky style, takes the scalpel to the preconceived ideas around ‘ranga-ism’ - highlighting how this recessive gene is the primary cause of most the world’s woes! Inspired by the Australian sitcom, Summer Heights High, and the Youtube sensation Rage of the Redhead, McIlroy descends into the gritty underbelly of ginger prejudice with hilarious results.

“For many years, we tried to blend in with other people and pretend we weren’t rangas,” quips McIlroy. “We even tried to disguise ourselves with the use of hair dye and sunscreen, and by taking the mac out of our names. This made rangas harder and harder to identify. As time went by, with the Ranga Rights Movement getting underway, we began celebrating our connectedness with rest of Homo Sapiens. We even began leaving our Red Rover Reserve and Coming Out. We put forward a list of demands to Government. These included recognition that Rangas have souls... That you may not own a Ranga… That a Ranga is not just for Christmas...”

“We began lobbying for better work opportunities for Rangas beyond the reserve. Rangas have always been sidelined in the work place (right back to the days of Angus the great, the famous Glaswegian sewer diver of the 1800’s who specialised in jewel retrieval and fungal development). My own jobs included menial responsibilities like Arm Pit Sniffing, Pet Food Tasting, even Whale Snot Gathering, which I must say I enjoyed once I learned to swim.”

Get the picture? Vintage McIlroy material flows forth copiously in The Ranga in which Durban’s multi-award-winning comic appears alongside well-known Durban muso, Andy Turrell, on musical accompaniment. Hit songs to be heard in the show include, among others, covers of Duelling Banjos (Deliverance), Hey Brother (Avicii), Money’s Too Tight To Mention (Simply Red) and Moves Like Jagger (Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera).

Celebrating 20 years of South Africa’s Democracy, The Ranga marks Aaron McIlroy’s return, after two decades, to the Playhouse stage, where his professional career began as a member of the Loft Theatre Company in the early 1990’s.

The Ranga runs in the Playhouse Drama from December 3 to 14. Performances Tuesdays to Saturdays at 19h30 with 15h00 matinees on Saturdays and Sundays. The duration of the show is 95 minutes including a 20 minute interval. Tickets R150 booked through Computicket on 0861 915 8000 or online at as well as via the Playhouse Box Office on 031 369 9540 (office hours).