Review: Feeling good with Zip Zap’s Slapstick, a gem of hope in a dark, dark world, Cape Town- premiere season, May 2022

Slapstick – presented by Zip Zap Circus – May 2022
Where: Zip Zap Dome, Artscape precinct, Foreshore, Cape Town
When and times: May 21 and 22 and May 28 and 29 at noon and 4pm
Tickets: R155
Direct booking link:

Slapstick, the new live show by Cape Town’s Zip Zap Circus is premiering in Cape Town. It was on last weekend (May 21 and 22, 2022) and is on next weekend (May 28 and 29) at noon and 4pm in in the Zip Zap Dome. I loved Slapstick. It is a tonic, an upper. In a time of apprehension globally, most of us are on edge. In South Africa, it is winter, we are dealing with load shedding [electricity outages, for readers abroad]. With the anxiety from the ongoing pandemic, it is great to have a respite and release from the angst and tension. Slapstick delivers –thrills, fun and oodles of circus entertainment. It was wondrous to sit in our beautiful Cape Town on a sunny winter day and be dazzled with circus magic by the talented Zip Zappers and Dare2Dream students. They are accompanied by a hyper feel-good soundtrack which includes numbers like Feeling Good (also known as Feelin Good) and Louis Armstrong singing the perennial favourite, What a Wonderful World.

Slapstick is emblematic of a gem of hope

Hearing, Michael Bublé crooning Feeling Good (2005) – wow. It lifted our spirits, to hear those lyrics: “It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day. It’s a new life for me, ooh. And I’m feeling good…”  With those words of hope and aspiration, we gasped at the artistry of aerial silk artist Liyabona Makhele, dancing in the air, high above, in the dome.  Fabulous, fabulous. I was watching a clip of Michael Bublé on the internet, singing Feeling Good. There was a comment: “If you are watching this in 2022, you a pearl of hope in this dark, dark world. Good job.” Or words to that effect- the link disappeared.  There was no name of the commentator. Watching Zip Zap staging Slasptick in May 2022 and I say: “Bravo Zip Zap: Excellent job.”

Transcending the commonplace through entertainment and circus magic

I wanted to take the sound track home and the entire company –to hold on to the magic – watching the young circus artists juggle, clown, tumble, balance, fly. Slapstick was conceptualised before the advent of the pandemic, as a showcase for the younger contingent of Zip Zap artists. The idea was to bring joy and entertainment of circus to audiences – by referencing the Great Depression in the 1930s, when people took solace and joy in watching slapstick, clowning, swing, jazz, music, comedy. It took them away from their worries and troubles as they laughed at the madcap antics on stage and film. Charlie Chaplin, swing, jazz. Gershwin, the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, comedy (such as Mae West) and are some of the acts and artists, referenced by Zip Zap The show was in development and then came the pandemic of Covid (sadly still with us). Zip Zap’s professional company, continued to create, with online offerings such as the excellent Moya (first online and then staged live). The pandemic heightened the concept of ‘slapstick’ as escapism. Here we are, in the ongoing pandemic, with a host of social and economic worries and we really, really need to be entertained.  Slapstick was brought back on track, to be staged in December 2021 and then pandemic numbers were on the boil and it was postponed, until now, May 2022. I do not want to spoil as to what is featured in the show. The joy is watching it unfold. The young artists are sensational. They not only soar and dazzle but they act- with impressive clowning and dancing. The music is uplifting and inspirational. See for more about Slapstick by the creative team and others involved in creating the show -from story board to stage.

Audience and the experience in the Zip Zap Dome

Slapstick is a family show and I think that it takes cognisance of the fact children have been impacted by the pandemic. Most schooling was online. Hugs and touch has been off limit, out of home bubbles. Parents have been carrying the burden of worrying about life. The show allows everyone to chill and have a breather in the spacious tent. Slapstick is geared for the small fry but I recommend that whatever your age, you get there and locate your inner child. The older audience contingent may get gags and nuances, perhaps, lost on the kidlets. Seating is picnic style. The audience is invited to bring cushions and blankets and spread out and make a space on the floor of the dome. Some chairs are available, for the oldies. Picnics may be pre-ordered. See Quicket, for details. An extraordinary aspect of watching Slapstick, on the weekend, was watching the joy of the young audience and their families, on the floor. Many of the kidlets were forming human pyramids with each other, clowning, tumbling and rolling across their parents. The show on stage is one component and then it is the possibility of playing, before the show starts, at interval and after the show. At the performance we attended, the cast sang ‘happy birthday’ to a member in the audience. A sign drops down, to signify that it is ‘interval’. It is a show packed with fun and the entertainment factor is rolled into an awesome package of slapstick themed circus acts. Slapstick is a gem of hope in a dark, dark world. This show is a treat – two shows- next weekend- May 28 and 29- 2022.

Spectacular: Masizakhe Kovi (long pants) and Zuzipe Mgijimai (shorts), in Zip Zap’s, Slapstick. Photo: Joan Ward. Supplied.

Feeling Good: On aerial silk, Liyabona Makhele, wows the audience. This act is set against the upper of a song, Feeling Good, in Zip Zap’s, Slapstick. Photo: Joan Ward. Supplied.
Unicycle: Ayanda Nombelwu and Matthew Risk in Zip Zap’s, Slapstick. Photo: Joan Ward. Supplied.
Audience fun: At interval, a youngster inspired by the circus, uses her mom as a balancing bar, at Zip Zap’s, Slapstick. Pic taken with permission of the mom and faces intentionally blurred. Pic: © TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen.
Circus picnic: Kids having fun at Zip Zap’s Slapstick.Pic: © TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen.

✳ Featured image by Joan Ward: Matthew Risk, Siphelele Jan and Phelelani Ndakroka.Supplied.

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