I am a Nataniel fan. I love his shows. They are clever, slick and thought provoking. They are superbly put together in terms of production values. Nataniel collects the finest creative people and then works with them “for ever”. His costumer, Floris Louw, (more about the costumes later) and his musical team, the Charl du Plessis Trio (Charl du Plessis on keyboard, Werner Spies on bass and Hugo Radyn on drums) supplemented by Nicolaas Swart on vocals as well as newcomer Francois Joubert, also on vocals, are proof of this.
This particular show was conceived after an incident in an art gallery in Europe when Nataniël met an artist who had created an exquisite paper model of a white, empty zoo. The artist handed viewers pens and asked them to write on the base of the model. They had to write the names or descriptions of anyone or anything they thought should live in the zoo. Nataniël wrote, The Beasts That Try To Rule Us, The Demons That Haunt Us, The Monsters We May Become. Within days the idea for this new show had taken shape. After Animals is one of the darker shows I’ve seen Nataniel produce, a sci-fi musical set in the future, after the last animal on earth has been killed in a ritual slaughter.
The essence of the show is unchanged. It is still the same formula of powerful songs and plausible and touching anecdotes, some in English and some in Afrikaans, which make Nataniel’s shows a hit with South African audiences.
As usual there is some interesting choreography, this time performed by Bradley Dreyer (acrobat) and Martin van Heerden (dancer), two very masculine bodies doing some very graceful gymnastic movements.
The costumes are, as always, pure genius. In particular the grey satin outfit which, when rubbed, turns to a glittery fabric is sheer magic. I want a top like that. Hell, everyone wants a top like that, even if one only ever wears it when one is going to be rubbed up the right way.
Nataniel’s shows are uniquely his, stamped with his personality and his meticulous attention to detail. Nothing is left to chance. The only unscripted things, as he mentions at the beginning, are his comments to audience members who use their mobile phones during the show to film him … or whatever.
I love Nataniel. After Animals is on at Emperors Palace for a limited season until 27 September 2015. Do NOT miss it.