Joe Barber 4 the People! My Reviews 20 SEP 2008

Joe BarberOn Tuesday evening we were invited through to the HB Thom theatre in Stellenbosch to catch the hilariously funny (or at least that is what Andy had promised us) Joe Barber 4, courtesy of the comps that Albert was able to organise for us.

Seeing as we hadn’t been to see a show in quite some time, we jumped at the opportunity and boy am I glad that we did. I can unashamedly say that Joe Barber was one of the funniest pieces of theatre comedy that I have yet to lay eyes on.

This is the fifth official outing for this particular team, kicking it off way back in 1999 with “Meet Joe Barber” and then following that up with the popular “Joe Barber”. Success continued and the team returned with “Joe Barber and Boeta Gamat Too” and then 2005 saw the release of the critically acclaimed “Joe Barber 3 – The Family Affair”. Skip forward to today, and these two geniuses are back, this time with “Joe Barber 4 the People”.

Now Joe Barber is the creation David Isaacs and Oscar Peterson (with a little help from Heinrich Reisenhofer) and tells the story of a little barber shop called Joe Barber run by Boeta Joe and Boeta Gamat on the Cape Flats and this old, run-down little barbershop has withstood the test of time, gathering news and gossip and in so doing becoming a living archive of the Cape Flats history, with Gamat and Joe the custodians of these colourful stories.

However, Joe and Gamat are not the only characters you will find lurking around. There’s David and Isaac as themselves (who are always having a go at one another), Washiela (Gamat’s skinnerbek wife) and Outjie, the skollie who is always out to make a quick buck.

Peterson and Isaacs seamlessly switch between character and persona at a flick of a hat (or spectacles) and they weave a hilarious ensemble on stage which leaves you laughing in your seat and even rolling on the floor at times. They make full use of coloured vernacular (there is no other way to put it), music, physical comedy and just plain clever storytelling and acting and in so doing pull off a very tightly knitted 80 minute show that will pass you by so quickly that you won’t believe it’s over when the final lights dim.

And then of course there is the audience participation, something you should be sure to look out for and if you can, try and get picked – it is riotous fun watching the hapless audience member being enrolled as barbershop trainee!

If you aren’t from Cape Town or are perhaps not quite so familiar with the Cape Flats’ vibe and way of life, some of the show’s humour may just be lost a little on you, but rest assured, Isaacs and Peterson’s intense level of professionalism and amazing impersonations are more than enough to carry you through the show and I guarantee that you won’t walk out of that theatre without having laughed for at least three quarters of the show!

Currently Joe Barber 4 the People is finishing up its run here in Stellenbosh before moving over to Durban (I think), but if you do see a poster up around in your location advertising this dynamic duo, make sure you get to the venue post haste!

You won’t be sorry! :)

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.