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Monday, May 23, 2016


(Aaron McIlroy. Pic by Val Adamson)

McIlroy’s best production to date showcases his many skills. (Review  by Caroline Smart)

In my opinion, Masterclass is Aaron McIlroy’s best production to date as it showcases his many skills from his completely wild and whacky characters to the exquisite poignancy of his final number on the guitar.

He goes through an impressive range of accents and moods but they are all “real” and without the zaniness of the characters we have become accustomed to seeing from him. I have been impressed with his acting skills since his early days in the Loft Theatre Company and, judging by the response from the opening night’s audience, his fans also reacted well to a side of him they haven’t seen before. It’s a laugh a minute but there is a serious underlying element to Masterclass.

McIlroy reveals that the idea for the show came from a talk given by American humorist and writer Emily Levin who lectures on science and the human condition. He was inspired to “tackle humour from a more intellectual, in-depth approach and to analyse all its intricacies.” The more research he did on the subject, the more he felt that it would have a universal appeal.

Don’t think for a moment that Masterclass is an academic lecture. Far from it. It’s a delicious two-hour romp as we follow a number of characters who talk about how comedy does or doesn’t work, its challenges as to where to draw the line and the necessity to live with tension. He quips – “think of your body as the Starship Enterprise – going where no man has gone before”.

What makes it more compelling is that most of the tales are true – based on McIlroy’s own experiences, particularly a hilarious recounting of his and his wife, Lisa Bobbert’s time working at a venue in Hong Kong. Another amusing sequence saw the Censorship Board refusing McIlroy’s licence on the grounds of his perceived rudeness to audiences in previous shows.

The wildness and whacky scenes are there but more in context for their position in the storytelling.

We mainly stay with the main character who is in his dressing room preparing for a show. McIlroy becomes Aaron in a highly amusing telephone call to John Cleese (McIlroy worked with him on the movie Spud?) where he races around the room and up and down ladders to find a stronger cellphone signal.

Masterclass is directed by Patrick Kenny who co-wrote the script with McIlroy. Lighting is by Michael Broderick and the set is devised by the three of them as well as Bobbert. The set is a busy one with a number of props scattered around divided into three sections, the dressing room mirror, the central area with a divan and one which is used in the Star Trek scene and in a very funny scene where he sends up events organisers.

Produced by MacBob Productions, Comedy Masterclass plays at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre until June 5, with performances at 19h30 from Tuesdays to Saturdays and at 18h00 on Sundays. Tickets R120 to R145. For block booking discounts, call Ailsa Windsor on 083 250 2690 or email

Booking is through Computicket on 0861 915 8000. – Caroline Smart