Rob van Vuuren rants about life in Life. Photo: Dani Bischoff
Life is good. You have friends who do interesting things. Friends with whom you laugh over a beer or a whiskey. Who’s daughter is sometimes babysat by your daughter. Friends who babysat your daughter. Friends who you don’t see all that often but hug with genuine affection when you do see them. And then you go watch your friend’s show. And it is disappointing. And you’re expected to review it. Suddenly life is not so good.
It might occur to you to not write that review. After all, no-one is paying you to do it. It’s tempting. But life is full of problems. One problem is that you have, in the past, on the odd occasion, written, with candour, that you didn’t like work produced by other people with whom you have never laughed over a drink or hugged with affection (and since expressing your opinion about their work will probably never get the chance). So why, in the name of good art, should you let your friend off the hook?
Life isn’t fair, you say. Well, the less fair life is, the more fair you gotta be to maintain some sort of balance in the universe.
Not that Rob van Vuuren’s Life was terrible. There were some good parts, there were some bad parts. Which is a bit like life. There’s always something to be thankful for. Such as being alive, at the very least. Unless you were fully committed to killing yourself, then still being alive really is terrible, except even there is a shimmer of hope: you get a chance to try again. And if you think that joke was bad, well, some of Rob’s were on about that level.
Not all of them. He managed to elicit a chuckle or three. Okay maybe four. Five tops. His animal characterisations were good. He does a mean chicken and an even better dog. Actually, Rob’s Life would be absolutely fine, very good, even, like, three-and-a-half stars good if he could just stand still for one moment other than the one in which he takes a selfie. And stop fiddling around with the microphone stand. And stop repeating lines in ascending volume. And stop overacting. Actually, I would say he needed a director, except he had one in Tara Notcutt.
And I’m thinking ‘what’s going on here?’ but of course Rob’s got it all wrapped up. It’s life. Sometimes it’s a bit funny, sometimes it’s a bit boring, sometime’s it’s a bit frustrating, sometimes it’s a bit nervewracking and it’s always unrehearsed. So he’s created a show that perfectly fits the title. But if that was intentional, it’s a kak joke.
Look, of all performing arts, stand-up is probably the one that most requires an audience to develop the show, and this was opening night. And people tell me I’m hard to please. And stand-up is not my favourite genre. And Rob is a likeable oke. So chances are, everybody is going to just love Life. Which is fantastic. But if for some reason I see it again, if Rob is still fiddling with that microphone stand, I swear I’ll throw something at him.
Life is on at the Baxter in Cape Town until May 28. Book here.
— Steve Kretzmann