Sell-By-Date by Pieter-Dirk Uys

When and where: May 17 to June 10, 2023 at Theatre on the Bay, Cape Town and at FynArts Festival 2023 in Hermanus on June 11 at 18:30 – 19:45pm in the Dutch Reformed Church

Bookings for Theatre on The Bay: or through Theatre On The Bay box-office on (021) 438-3300/1

Bookings for FynArts: or see

Duration: Approx 90-minutes. No interval.  

The legendary Pieter-Dirk Uys is on in Cape Town at Theatre on the Bay, with his show, Sell-By-Date, until June 10, 2023. The day after the season at TOB, he will zoom over to Hermanus to the FynArts Festival. He is the FynArts Legacy Artist 2023 and will receive his award at a ceremony on June 11, from luminary writer, Christopher Hope, who resides in France. PDU will also perform Sell-By-Date at FynArts [also June 11]. PDU is 77. It is remarkable that he is still on the boards, with his signature satire/revue shows.

I write that PDU will “zoom” over to FynArts but of course that word now conjures up the pandemic days, when live performance was largely presented on the screen and often, via the app “zoom”, which many of us had not known about, before the lockdown regulations shuttered theatre. PDU presented several shows during lockdown, on virtual platforms. In Sell-By-Date, his first major new solo-show, post-pandemic, he talks about those days and segues into realities now – dealing with our current challenges and anxieties (load shedding, breakdown of services, widespread corruption, the looming elections in 2024). He shares aspects of his current physical journey with the audience. I will not production spoil. It is intimate and up-close with this icon of South African theatre- stripped back. All is revealed as he stands on stage, in his socks and crocs.

In a recent interview, PDU said to me that he reckons that in this show, he is talking WITH the audience, not talking TO the audience. In Sell-By-Date, there is a sense of him feeling flummoxed by the state of the ruptured Rainbow Nation and the currency of whether we are beyond our sell-by-date (let us not talk about our currency). PDU shuffles through props and costumes, in and out of a crate, destined for a charity shop. He debates whether to relinquish the lot.

A favourite PDU tag line has been the need to laugh at our fears. In the current situation, we are perhaps, beyond fear – of what could happen. The edges of the absurd have flattened into a miasma of being wrapped in dread. PDU takes us there but his love for South Africa and his celebration of its people and its resilience is always there.

Then we get to his impressions and impersonations. PDU muses about the issues of being politically correct and the act of appropriating guises of others. Is it okay for a white man to impersonate Madiba? How about bringing on his favourite ladies- Evita Bezuidenhout, Nowell Fine and Evita’s sister Bambi Kellermann? Is it not woke for a man to impersonate women? I loved seeing Nowell, Bambi and Evita again. For 2023, Nowell and Evita are depicted as older ladies. Evita is 87- a decade older than PDU. She is fabulous- as always. I don’t know Nowell’s age but she is aging gracefully as she regales us, with her delicious kugel accent about her take on things, Bambi (former stripper), who is Evita’s sister, is ageless. She looks exactly the same – evoking the underbelly of Berlin in the 1960s. She hung out with the Beatles and other famous people, far away from her motherland. Meanwhile her famous sister, the power hungry, Evita reigned as the “most famous white woman in South Africa” (only surpassed by Helen Zille) and was busy “cooking for reconciliation”. Bambi has always been the recalcitrant diva who transcends political correctness, purring a mantra of sex.

Watching Sell-By-Date and I was reminded of the extraordinary contribution by Pieter-Dirk Uys to the arts and to community as a whole. Beyond his over four decades in theatre – satirist, writer, playwright, director, producer (and more) – he has made an impact as a cultural activist – voter education, sex education, HIV AIDS awareness. This work was self-funded. He put Evita in a grocery bag and drove solo around the country. Here he is in 2023, approaching his 8th decade, teasing out mirth prompts and communing with his audience. On the evening I attended, there was standing ovation. It was not a media night or a special event. Bravo to PDU – South Africa’s treasured satirist- treading the boards at 77- and holding on to his crate of props and costumes – for the shows that beckon beyond the sell-by-date stamp. Bravo to Pieter-Dirk Uys and his truly unstoppable titanium Tannie Evita and for bringing his wonderful energy and satire to lift us out of ourselves.

✳ Image supplied by Pieter-Dirk Uys. Related coverage on TheCapeRobyn: