Amateur Hour! was first staged in 2013, as The Theatre of Death which is kind of what it is about: Theatre of Death. It is about death and dying as two performers put on “bad” theatre. They relish in the “amateur” and embrace getting everything wrong – from lighting, cues, wooden delivery and blank stares at the audience.

On at The Courtyard Playhouse (formerly Alexander Bar & Upstairs Theatre) until March 28, 2020 at 8pm

Play: Amateur Hour!

Writer: Gwydion Beynon

Performers: Glen Biderman-Pam and Jemma Kahn

Director: John Trengove

Age advisory: 16 S V L

The production premiered at the National Arts Festival in 2013 and Jemma Kahn quips on her website that “it won nothing and played to befuddled houses from Cape Town to Perth (twice).”

Amateur Hour! does leave one flummoxed – but in a good way.

It is zany and wacky physically charged theatre with Kahn and Glen Biderman-Pam dead-panning their way through a series of sketches. There is botched Shakespeare. Biderman-Pam is brilliant as he mangles a marionette act – with strings detaching. The mesmerising Kahn clowns it up. She bounces off stage and takes a call on her mobile phone, from her mom. That is the funny. What transpires in the chat is not so funny. They take the mickey out of a Des and Dawn like duo of Troubadours – laced with delicious Joburg kugel accents.

The show reminds me of sitting through musical and theatrical interludes at school functions. It reminds me of performances by nervous young people who blink in the spotlight and who fumble their way through presentations. Some of them are brilliant but some are there because it is expected that they perform or they just have delusions of grandeur. Mommy and daddy think they are wonderful -even if they are awful.  The lighting and sound is bad and everything is off. We may cringe but we must watch and applaud and affirm their insecurities and doubts. We feel their pain. It taps into our pain and angst of getting it so wrong and missing our cues in life, as we die with them, in every agonising moment.

Amateur Hour! is a hoot, with two beguiling artists shooting an amateur hour (actually less than an hour) of screw-ups which have been immpecably crafted and choreographed. The piece is threaded with images of death but beyond that I think it is a primer to embrace our inner clown; to let go; be bad and loopy.

Image credit: Jemma Kahn and Glen Biderman-Pam. Pic supplied.

Theatre/ travel advisory: Amateur Hour! at The Courtyard Playhouse

Venue address: 76 Strand Street, Cape Town, 8001

Dates: March 6, 7 and March 18-28 at 8pm
Show duration: about 55 minutes

Tickets: R150. Students and seniors R100

Online booking: direct booking link:

Book by phone: 021 300 1652