Playwrite Greig Coetzee has created a gangsta rap play with rhyming lines, although the hero of the play, Johnny Boskak (Craig Morris), finds that his life just isn’t rhyming anymore.
The premise of the play is that Johnny Boskak, a small time hustler whose greatest achievement in life was surviving his military service back in 1985. He now smokes too much “zol” and tries to keep body and soul together. The type is familiar to most South Africans and is beautifully created both in the script and in how Craig Morris brings this pathetic character to life.
The skill of the actor finds him miming the lighting of a cigarette. The actor doesn’t smoke, but the character does. It is done so well that my nose twitched in expectation of the smell of the cigarette hitting it. Every detail was captured as magnificently.
It is a one man play, but we find our hero teaming up with Eve and the two form a South African version of the Bonny and Clyde story as they take their stolen vehicle on a road trip through places of Boskak’s memories.
Directed by Roslyn Wood-Morris, the play sizzles from start to finish as Morris unravels the tale of the thousands of whites who never quite made it in a country where their skin colour should have been a ticket to economic stability. One finds this love story absolutely mesmerising as one relaxes into the unique mixture of English, Afrikaans, Zulu and typically South African slang, some of it dating back to the seventies and eighties.
Every aspect of the play works well, fine tuned by the passage of time (this play has been around for nearly a decade). Lighting is by Barry Strydom. Costume is by Craig Morris.
This is one of those rare plays where everything works well – the plot, the script, the performer, the direction, the set, the costume, the lighting – yet the whole failed to please me. I found it a tad tiresome to follow, although the lingo is familiar and there was never a time when I lost the plot. The fault obviously lies with my own prejudice, perhaps at the character itself. I tried to put my finger on exactly what it was that offended me, but apart from some borderline blasphemy (which normally would not throw me too seriously) I can’t identify it. It made me think critically about the many plays which fall short in so many spheres yet they entertain and overall please me. I am sure this perverse distaste for the work, especially in the light of my enjoyment for many works far inferior to this one, is just a personal character fault of mine. In fact, I apologise for this. Do not let it deter you from seeing this play.
Johnny Boskak is feeling funny gets a three week season, from 14 November 2016 to 4 December 2016, upstairs at the Barney Simon at The Market Theatre. It is on every night at 20:15 Tuesdays to Saturdays and there is a matinee performance on Sundays at 15:15.