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Saturday, July 7, 2018


(James Cairns)

If you like your theatre coarse and rough, don’t miss this at Hilton. (Review by Caroline Smart)

I have been waiting with eagerness to catch The Devil & Billy Markham, the 2017 Standard Bank Ovation winner, which was back this year at the 2018 National Arts Festival. Produced by Contagious Theatre, the one-man show is written by Shel Silverstein, directed by Jenine Collocott and stars the splendid actor James Cairns.

When reviewing this show at the 2017 Festival, artSMart reviewer Keith Millar stated: “An outstanding production and features a tour-de-force performance by James Cairns.

Millar was perfectly right – it is exactly as he describes it.

Shel Silverstein was an American poet, singer-songwriter, cartoonist, screenwriter, and author of children's books. The Devil & Billy Markham couldn’t be further from a children’s book, if it tried! It was first published in 1979 by Playboy magazine.

Written in classic iambic pentameter with a definite adult flavour, Cairns performs it with an American deep-South accent.

Billy Markham is a down-and-out singer/songwriter. He meets the Devil at his local bar where the Devil is challenging everyone to roll the dice with him. No-one will take him up on his dare but Billy’s an experienced hustler and he’s not afraid of devils or dice. If he loses, he gives his body up and his soul to the Devil. Only problem is, there are no dots on the dice.

In his wrangling with the Devil, Billy journeys to Hell and to Heaven and then back again with some major twists and turns along the way. On a bare stage, with a rostrum which is cleverly lit to resemble a pool table or the fires of hell, Cairns counterbalances Billy’s macho style by giving the Devil a lisping camp personality. The dodgy Scuzzy Slezzo, who aims to be Billy’s agent, is delightfully sleazy. God even gets a look-in as an expert pool player.

The Devil & Billy Markham will be presented at the Hilton Theatre towards the end of July. If you like your theatre coarse and rough, don’t miss it. Added to this, is the chance to see a superb actor at work.

The show at Hilton will be held on July 27 at 19h00. Its duration is 75 minutes with Q&A with James Cairns after the performance. Tickets R80 (R60 scholars: accompanying staff free).

For all school group bookings email All other tickets available online through – Caroline Smart