Chilliboy leaves fans gasping for breath

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

I first watched Chilliboy at the Market Theatre last year, and boy, it will take you through different emotions.

It is now showing at the Tesson Theatre in Braamfontein until December 30.

If you want to laugh and have a great time during this festive season, it is not a bad idea to go watch this one.

This hysterically funny play tells the story of an old Indian woman who dies and is reincarnated as a racist white gangster from Boksburg.

At the age of 30, the gangster starts experiencing flashbacks from his previous life as an Indian woman.

Issues of gender, race and identity play havoc with the gangster's mind - he starts wearing a sari, cooking curry and biryanis. He no longer wants to fight or brawl as his newly discovered maternal instincts start determining his behaviour.

His tough reputation is threatened by the resultant turmoil. A mixed masala of colourful scenes, peppered with weird and wacky characters, bring this masterful piece of theatre to life.

The play is a theatrical phenomenon that has compelled South African audiences to flock to theatres over the past few years. Writer Geraldine Naidoo cleverly creates a hilarious play that tackles issues of cultural identity, racial difference and masculinity in an extraordinary and highly entertaining way.

The play continues to attract huge audiences from across the vast racial and cultural spectrum that constitutes contemporary South African society.

While Naidoo's conception, writing and direction were lauded as ground-breaking and brilliant, it is the masterful performance of Matthew Ribnick that leaves audiences gasping for breath.

Many audience members are convinced that the actor is mad.

In just over an hour, Ribnick skillfully snaps back and forth between characters, ranging from the ordinary to those bizarre.

Bouts of raucous laughter are punctuated with poignant moments of absolute sincerity as the audience comes to grips with a remarkable story told by a madman with a few hats.

The ability of the actor to play several roles makes this production even more interesting to watch.

The show is a hysterical, yet insightful, perspective of life in post-apartheid South Africa.

The show runs for 70 minutes with no interval.

All tickets are R80, excluding Computicket booking fees. Discounted tickets for groups of 10 or more are available.

Performance days and times are Tuesdays to Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 6pm and 8.30pm and on Sundays at 3pm.