Review: Rob van Vuuren Still Standing: My Trauma and why I carry it, at NAF 2022

Rob van Vuuren Still Standing at 2022 National Arts Festival
When: June 25, 26 and July 2 [extra show added]
Booking link:

National Arts Festival, Makhanda #NAF2022 –June 23 to July 3, 2022
Visit for the full programme and bookings  
#NAF2022 #ItWillChangeYou    

I saw, Rob van Vuuren Still Standing, last night, June 26, at 2022 National Arts Festival [NAF]. That was supposed to be the last performance at NAF but a 3rd show has been added on July 2, in the Centenary Hall, 2pm. Info in booking link above in box. Rob van Vuuren is “still standing”, despite what he has gone through in the global pandemic as a performing artist and personally. Still Standing is dark. I would bill it as a tragi-comedy. In writing this, I was taking care to not plot spoil but I see in the festival blurb that van Vuuren reveals that he shares his “harrowing experiences” which includeseparation [marital], dating, hijacking.” It is a lot. In the show, he regales us in intimate detail of what he has gone through. As per the website blurb, he is “brutally honest”. It is not pretty stuff –rather bleak – but that is what he has been through.  To cap it all, he lives in Fishhoek. That is another story.

Van Vuuren is a brilliant all-round artist. He has won awards for his comedy and for his prodigious career as an actor and director [Fleur du Cap Theatre nominations and awards]. He brings his acting smarts to his comedy shows – physically using the stage – inhabiting it. As always at his comedy shows, he involves his audience, with chit-chat.  He is a mesmerising storyteller and master of observational comedy – but the comedy in this show is dark, dark.

Rob van Vuuren Still Standing is not a light show. There are laughter interludes but overall it is a reflective and deep show which raises scenarios which are disturbing (such as the highjacking). Van Vuuren, with his inimitable comedic flair, lightens the tension with gags but it is not comfortable territory, he is unpacking in this show. He tells us that South Africans have become inured to trauma. We tend to step over it (I won’t plot spoil this one). The thrust of this show, seems to be that we should talk about it and share and thereby find a cathartic release. This is why I have headed this review: Rob van Vuuren Still Standing: My Trauma and why I carry it. I am riffing off the NAF show by Tasmin Sherman – My Weight and Why I Carry It [

Rob van Vuuren has been through a great deal of trauma, during the pandemic. Sure, we all have but he has had an unrelenting and shocking blast come his way – professionally and personally-. He does not hold back as he takes us through pulse points of the last few years, which have traumatised him and here he is, on stage, processing and trying to find upbeat gag lines as a remedy.