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Thursday, July 27, 2017


(Pieter-Dirk Uys. Pic by Robert A Hamblin)

He’s engaging, dramatic, poignant, bitingly satirical and hysterically funny - performing the most riveting two hours without an interval. But you barely notice the time. Don’t miss it! (Review by Caroline Smart)

The winner of a multitude of awards both here and internationally, Pieter-Dirk Uys walks onto the Elizabeth Sneddon stage simply dressed in a black T-shirt, trousers and beanie. The stage is bare except for a barstool but this lack of setting is barely noticeable as he creates wonderful images in his descriptions of people and places.

Born in Cape Town, Uys comes from an exceptionally musical family. His home was a thatched roof house in Pinelands in Cape Town. With a mixture of Afrikaans, German and Jewish ancestry, he has a fabulous library of stories to draw on. His parents – the highly popular (except to the young Pieter-Dirk) Hannes Uys, his mother Helga Bassel - and his sister, Tessa Uys were all accomplished pianists who often played together at orchestral concerts. Tessa is acknowledged as one of South Africa’s most distinguished concert pianists and has gone on to make her name internationally. It was a delight to learn of her childhood as well.

The beginning of the show takes us right back to his days as a 14 year-old. We listen to a recording of him singing at the time – a pure clear soprano. He yearned for long pants but it was thought this might cause his voice to break too soon! Memories include ice cream after church and the steam trains passing by. He reminds us with an ironic smile that he now owns his own station, the former Darling railway station which is now Evita se Perron, his cabaret and theatre restaurant.

He talks about his mercurial relationship with his father and handles his death with achingly beautiful emotion as he also does with the suicide of his mother.

A major influence on his life was the family’s domestic worker, Sannie, and the production comes full circle from the apartheid days, when the colour of their skin kept them apart, to the time when she really did become one of the family. He remembers her with such fondness, particularly when she and her friend voted for the first time.

Another strong influence, but someone who became a lifelong friend, is film actress Sophia Loren. Their relationship started with her simple reply to a star-struck young boy urging him to be brave. He tells how he searched for her home in Rome by identifying the buildings behind her in a photograph.

Memories pour forth of his early years. He was in the Navy but never set foot on a ship although he highly enjoyed his time stationed on the Bluff! The times he spent at the Space Theatre founded by Yvonne Bryceland and Brian Astbury in Cape Town in 1972 makes for a history book in itself. There is also much hilarity when he talks about how he manipulated the posturing Publications Control Board!

This production doesn’t poke fun at today’s political climate but the apartheid government and its leaders come in for a real whacking. There is only a very slight mention of Evita Bezuidenhout. The title refers to the days when theatrical censorship abounded but he refused to be silenced and insisted on making a noise! Thank heavens he did!

“Almost Famous” is written on his T-Shirt. “Almost”??? That’s a laugh. This is probably one of the most famous people in South Africa – next to Evita Bezuidenhout, of course! He’s engaging, dramatic, poignant, bitingly satirical and hysterically funny - performing the most riveting two hours without an interval. But you barely notice the time. The show has played to full houses and sold out seasons since it opened last year in Cape Town – so don’t miss it!

The Echo of a Noise runs until August 6 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre in Durban. Tickets available from Computicket 0861 915 8000 / Shoprite Checkers Money Market Counters.

For block bookings only – of entire performances to groups of 50 people, contact Ailsa Windsor of Going Places: or 083 250 2690.– Caroline Smart

For more information visit or follow weekly episodes of Evita’s Free Speech on YouTube every Sunday: