Review: Kim Blanche Adonis dazzles in Mike van Graan’s achingly funny, poignant and oh so sad, He Had It Coming, on at the Baxter, Cape Town, November 29 to December 10, 2022

He Had It Coming by Mike van Graan- collection of sketches, poetry and songs

Performer: Kim Blanche Adonis
Director: Daniel Mpilo Richards
When: November 29 to December 10, 2022
Where: Baxter Golden Arrow Studio at 7pm

Mike van Graan’s He Had It Coming is brilliant satirical theatre which is achingly funny, poignant and oh so sad. Howl the beloved country. Kim Blanche Adonis is fabulously feisty as she segues between multiple characters in sketches, underpinned by gender based violence and the fear, which women deal with daily, in South Africa. The direction by Daniel Mpilo Richards is seamless as he stiches together the narratives and tempers the fiery energy of Adonis with moments of stillness, contemplation, song and mirth. This run, at the Baxter, is during the 16 Days of Activism 2022 and He Had It Coming, hits home, hard, as we deal with increasingly high and distressing stats of GBV.

Adonis owns the space as she prowls across the stage, pulling the audience into tripping through the landscape of fear that is ever present. Yes, we laugh at our fears (laughter helps to take the edge off, we need that). We laugh through, the perspectives of the multiple characters that van Graan has assembled in He Had It Coming. The baseline is the stark reality: Staying safe- dodging the bad stuff – calibrating as best as we can. The one character quips that she is not sure if she is blessed or cursed because she couldn’t have children. That makes one want to cry and Adonis in a magnificent performance, heightens the nuances of van Graan’s script which is threaded with his unerring and unflinching gaze on the nation that we love but which is ruptured and fractured by so much grief and despair. It is the self-deprecating humour that gets us through and this evoked with van Graan’s eye and ear for people – and how they create narratives to chart their way through reality. Hilarious barbs sting through He Had It Coming – for instance how South Africans rationalise that they have been mugged and have been party to violence and crime in other countries and why they are staying (a ping to the Facebook group #I’mStaying). There is violence, crime and fear everywhere, we rant, as we try to placate ourselves that it is not so bad. Can we listen to ourselves and how ridiculous and absurd we sound as we bleat on social media? Meanwhile, the stats are the stats and the reality must not be glossed over.

I saw an excerpt from He Had It Coming in August [2022], at van Graan’s The HomeHope and Humour Mini Festival of Theatre at The Avalon Theatre at the Home Coming Centre (HCC) in District Six. That extract featured the opening sequence of He Had It Coming, with Adonis as tour guide, handing out torches to tourists because of loadshedding and assuring them that a trip up Table Mountain should be okay, ha ha, because the cable car is the only car not to be highjacked – yet. Tonight, I watched He Had It Coming, in full as the happy clappy intro becomes fettered into a knot of characters and situations, trying to making sense of it all. The title – He Had It Coming- references the song, Cell Block Tango from the musical, Chicago where women sing about why they have killed their partners. Kim Blanche Adonis is magnificent as she bursts into the song – an urgent wail. He Had It Coming left me reeling- with a raft of emotions. I was uplifted and entertained by the mirth (laugh out aloud- fabulous dialogue) but I was saddened by the reality and the mirror of our country, which Mike van Graan, holds up for us to contemplate. He Had It Coming is compelling theatre. Kim Blanche Adonis is a stunner of a performer. She is only 26 and brings tremendous depth, pathos and expression to this piece. Do not miss.

Performer and director: Kim Blanche Adonis – performer in Mike van Graan’s He Had It Coming, with Daniel Mpilo Richards (director). Pic by Jeremeo le Cordeur. Supplied.

Women power: Carole Richards (mom of director, Daniel Mpilo Richards – he now lives in the UK), Kim Blanche Adonis and Dulcie Adonis (mom of Kim), at the Baxter, Cape Town, November 30, 2022. Pic: Robyn Cohen/TheCapeRobyn.

Featured image – Kim Blanche Adonis – performer in Mike van Graan’s He Had It Coming. Pic by Jeremeo le Cordeur.Supplied.