Pictures: Lorinda van den Berg
DIANE DE BEER
30 YEARS 90 MINUTES
WRITER, DIRECTOR, PERFORMER: Nataniël
SINGERS: Nicolaas Swart, Dihan Slabbert
MUSICIANS: Charl du Plessis (piano), Juan Oosthuizen (guitars), Hugo Radyn (drums), Werner Spies (bass)
COSTUMES: Floris Louw
UNTIL September 24
Celebrating 30 years as a solo artist is quite something. Doing it in the spectacular style as Nataniël does in 30 Years, 90 Minutes is awesome but not unexpected.
Having watched him for most of those 30 years bar the first few, what has excited me most is to watch his work evolving with time, to witness the confidence grow slowly allowing him to take more and more risks until his stage brand was completely embedded.
That doesn’t mean that he keeps doing the same. This current show says everything about his past but also gives us glimpses into the future.
Nataniël has always noted that the vision for his shows begins with the costumes. It sets the tone for everything else. The costumes are the thing visually. Not that they haven’t always been but they have competed with everything else happening on stage. One always knew that you would be missing some effects at first viewing of his shows, because there was so much going on.
This time though, the stage is stripped and more than anything, the costumes and his breath-taking lighting give the visual cues. A red shimmering jacket sparkles in the light or is turned into a black jacket with flashes of red and a closing outfit is transformed in colour and texture from the beginning to the end of the song. It’s magical!
All of that, as well as the set, are completely woven into the fabric of the storytelling, even when his stories don’t form one narrative other than being proof of his extraordinary ability to capture the imagination and paint pictures with words.
It’s not only the content of the stories, it’s the way they are germinated and have been constructed. In one, for example, he gives you a sentence that could be interpreted in diverse ways depending on how and when it is said, and then he ends that tale with the exact same construct as where it all started. It’s more than smart, it also gives the audience many aspects to engage and play with throughout the show. For those who think he is all about telling a story and singing a song, think again. There’s so much more – even if the former is more than enough. That’s why the longevity and the loyal fanbase.
As someone who has probably seen 90 plus percent of the shows he has created, it was a first for me when one story (spoiler alert: there’s a red Citroen with black stripes involved) was so funny, that my eyes burnt from all the tears caused by laughter.
And then there’s the music. Nataniël has always professed a deep love for singing. It’s what he enjoys most and when you see him live, it shows. His cover versions for those familiar with his music are legendary. His arrangements are so astute, they turn something familiar into something fabulous and he does a handful exquisitely in the show.
The choice of music for this season also includes something old and something new in his self-penned repertoire. To be reacquainted with some of the old tunes and being gifted something new, all adds to the richness of the production.
In addition to all of that you have the accompaniment of four supreme musicians (all in their own right) as well as two gifted singers that add even more tone and texture to the different songs. It is the complete package.
That’s the thing about a Nataniël show. Every detail is covered.
And to top it all, there’s the performer himself. It is his individuality, his unique gift for storytelling and song (creating and performing), his vision and his obsession to keep it fresh that transforms the stage and auditorium into the perfect dreamscape for 90 minutes.
He gives you what you want but in a new guise.