national Arts Festival Banner

Friday, July 14, 2017


Belly laughingly funny, naughty, quirky, breath-taking and absolutely spectacular. (Review by Keith Millar)

The final show I saw at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown this year was appropriately named Au Revoir.

It was billed as a cirque, comedy, dance, cabaret, vaudeville show, and it was fabulously entertaining. Belly laughingly funny, naughty, quirky, breath-taking and absolutely spectacular.

Au Revoir is the latest creation by the award-winning Follow Spot Productions team who also brought the Big Brother series and last year’s top-selling Fringe production, and Silver Ovation Award winner, Bon Soir to the festival. This team has developed a massive following and the 270-seater Kingswood Theatre was filled to capacity.

Featured artists were Vanessa Harris, Ash Searle, Brad Searle, Nicole van den Berg, Liam McDermott and Jane De Wet. Direction was by the enormously talented Vanessa Harris.

Au Revoir was awarded a 2017 Standard bank Ovation Award during the festival.

Young singer songwriter Liam McDermott is relatively new on the scene. He is a multi-disciplined artist in areas of art, music and drama and is blessed with a wonderful voice. He provided the serious moments in the show with songs like Lenard Cohen’s Hallelujah and Cher’s Bang, Bang (My baby Shot Me Down).

Vanessa Harris was an irresistibly naughty ringmaster/compere. Dressed like a burlesque showgirl in stockings and garter belt and mini, and with a sexy French ascent she sang, danced and teased chosen audience members mercilessly.

The Big Brothers, Ash and Brad Searle demonstrated their usual brand of highly physical and breath-taking contemporary dance. It was most definitely a case of “don’t try this at home”.

The girl dancers, Nicole van den Berg and Jane De Wet were beautifully athletic, co-ordinated and very sexy.

The only problem with the show was that it was quite poorly-lit and it was difficult to see the performers at times. It may have been a technical problem as a technician rushed to the front on a few occasions to fiddle with equipment. He never got it fixed.

That having being said, this show has so much going for it that it hardly mattered at all and the audience were kept enthralled from beginning to end.

After the performance, the entire cast danced in a conga line to the foyer where they interacted, signed autographs and took selfies with the audience. A nice touch. – Keith Millar