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The Theatreguide.London Review

Koos Sas
Tricycle Theatre Summer 2009

David Kramer, best known as author-composer of Kat And The Kings, brings London another small-scale South African musical.

Koos Sas is the story of a minor bushman criminal of a century ago who made a habit of escaping from jail whenever he was caught and going right back to his petty thefts.

He once managed to keep from being recaptured for five years, and Kramer sees him as a kind of Ned Kelly or Clyde Barrow figure - the outlaw as social hero.

Kramer tries to give his imagined version of Sas a social significance by having him speak a few lines about how the land and its fruits are free to all, and it is European ideas about private property that are the real theft.

But the image that comes across in the play is of a simple man driven more by the desire to return to the woman he loves than by any political mission.

And on that level the play is a sweet little tale of the criminal-as-victim, unfortunately out of step with the world around him.

The play is spoken and sung in Afrikaans, with mildly and pointlessly bowlderised supertitles. (An African friend chuckled in the interval about how a song lyric about the girl's beautiful arse somehow became 'lovely lips' onscreen.)

The 20 songs are all sweetly melodic, if somewhat similar in feel - though undoubtedly based on African models, they may remind you of the pop-ified American folk music of singers like John Denver.

The author-songwriter has directed the play in an appropriately simple style, with much of the dialogue and songs played directly to the audience.

Loukmaan Adams as Sas, Natalie Cervati as his love interest, Jody Abrahams as a simple-minded friend and Robert Koen as the cop who develops a grudging affection for his prey all serve the play without calling attention to themselves.

Koos Sas will appeal most obviously to those with an interest in South African history or theatre. Others will find it a fragile piece, pleasant to experience but unlikely to leave much of an impression.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review - Koos Sas - Tricycle Theatre 2009


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