Theatre Review: WhatWhat

WhatWhat is comedian Rob van Vuurnen’s ode to a phrase that can be “used to mean practically anything, from the indescribable to the unknowable to everything in between.” He takes advantage of this ambiguity working through a hoard of miscellaneous topics such as the horribleness of Aussies, anal sex, Nkandla (he won’t be a South African comedian without touching on this one), his super dog Bella, adoption, France and a secret Apartheid era gay language. WhatWhatIt takes a village to put together a one-man show, the 2013 Standard Bank Silver Ovation award winning WhatWhat owes a lot of its success to director Tara Notcutt, Gary Thomas (score), Siv Ngesi (producer) and choreography by Cleo Notcutt.

Highlights include a dramatic reading of a love letter that you might recognise as Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”, and a prediction that it won’t be zombies beating down our doors during the looming apocalypse, but rather art critic trolls.

But Rob van Vuuren is more than just a comedian and white boy with dance moves, he is a messer of minds. Once he firmly places the audience in safe “you’re at a comedy show, laughs up ahead” frame of mind, he follows it up with the story of his grandmother passing away and how it affected him. Cue wide eyed audience, what what the f? Maybe it was a device to keep the audience from a falling laugh-track state and actually listening to the content of his jokes. Or an intensely strange set up for a joke he made in passing at the end of the show. Most likely he, along with Notcutt, is just messing with us all.

The age restriction is 13, but only if you can handle at least one awkward question from a 13+ year old, then it’s a lovely show to take your teens to this holiday season. Otherwise best wait for his new film with Jon Savage, Stone Cold Jane Austen which will be out early next year.

WhatWhat is sharp, silly, it’s stand-up with feeling.

Have your mind messed with by Rob van Vuuren from 1 December until 17 January 2014 at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio.

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