By Arno Cornelissen
Committing to a comedy show scares me senseless. I’m always afraid that I’ll get stuck in a room with a lousy comedian who doesn’t know how to take a hint; awkwardness, jokes that fail to land, sweating bullets. Dude! Wa’s my bakkie? set my sceptical mind at ease.
I laugh with the rest of the audience from the moment the house rules are explained right till the end of Dean September’s (mis)ventures. Die windgat lightly – played by Jeremeo Le Cordeur – is the good kind of fool behind the script and the face.
Getting your first car is a ‘nca’ feeling. The lighting illuminates Dean’s sparkling eyes as he receives the Nissan 1400 as a 21st birthday present. Years later, when he discovers that his beloved bakkie has been stolen, Dean recollects his experiences attached to those wheels. Sound and a series of voice overs are used and provide more context to Dean and the people he remembers.
The stage has minimal frills, and each prop is tactfully used to convey the setting of the differing scenes. The props are not a crutch; Dean is funny enough without them. Instead, he uses them in a balanced way, switching from storytelling to cruising around the streets at night in his beloved Nissan bakkie. The full moon shines bright through the perfectly positioned projector, along with the ever-present road sign:
R101 – Klapmuts – Paarl
Some scenes begin with a view of disaster. Poor Dean must relive these moments – like a car crash (with superficial wounds) happening in slow motion before your eyes.
As a born-and-raised Afrikaans boy, with an ouma with an adoration for Afrikaans art, Dude! Wa’s my bakkie? revived my love of the language. It is the first Afrikaans performance I have seen at Fest. The script, realised through Dean, even makes me second-guess my commitment to English as my preferred writing language. Partykeer is daar niks beter as ‘n Afrikaanse floekwoord of ‘n bietjie Cape Town slang nie. Dean’s stories and wisecracks, combined with his tjor’s lights and sound, make every bit of Dude! Wa’s my bakkie? worth watching. It takes the audience down a ‘Gangster’s Paradise’ memory lane. Yet, don’t expect any profound messages. Dean’s just there to make us laugh, not become the next Greta Thunberg.