national Arts Festival Banner

Thursday, July 5, 2018


(Daniel Richards)

My expectations for Land Acts were high. I wasn’t disappointed. (Review by Caroline Smart)

I saw Daniel Richards in Mike van Graan’s Pay Back the Curry at the 2016 Hilton Arts Festival, so when I saw he was performing in Grahamstown at the 2018 National Arts Festival, he was top of my ticket list.

Written by van Graan and directed by Alan Committee, the play is titled Land Acts and deals with the current contentious issues of land ownership.

In Pay Back the Curry, I wroteDaniel Richards gives an outstanding and multi-faceted performance”. So my expectations for Land Acts were high.

I wasn’t disappointed.

This actor’s versatility is highly impressive, from his command of accents to his movement skills. He even plays the guitar and sings. Coupled with van Graan’s razor-sharp writing and Committee’s tight direction, this is a show not to be missed when it moves to Johannesburg after the festival.

Land Acts opens with Richards being a tour guide welcoming a group of would-be investors (the audience) to South Africa on the Rainbow September Tour. He apologises that it has taken us two days to get through passport control but if we were to invest in the country, a plan could be made! Instead of taking us on township tours, the township people are coming to see us and ask us questions! He explains that the uniformed presence comprises the police and the protection unit ... which is there to look after the police!

By this time, Richards has the audience completely in his pocket and so it continues as he takes on a number of different characters from a swashbuckling Texan horseman who has bought a large area of land but is not interested in the people who seem to be living on it to a car guard who believes that since the City put him on the streets, then the streets belong to him and therefore drivers need to pay him rent! He also as a side business hiring supermarket trolleys!

Then there’s the Aborigine and his didgeridoo and – a vocal tour de force – a snarling and yapping dog wondering what his future will be.

There’s a highly amusing musical piece as a band leader introduces his band – made up of Vorster, Madiba and Ramaphosa. Even Shakespeare makes an appearance with a complex speech involving all his titles –and some of the characters – as he explains that he is going to create some work here in South Africa.

Land Acts has two more performances on the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown: tomorrow (July 6) at 11h30 and July 8 at 11h30 at Kingswood Theatre. – Caroline Smart