From a critically acclaimed dance drama to rib-tickling comedy, there’s a theatre show for everyone

A scene from the dance drama “Karatara”. Picture: Supplied

A scene from the dance drama “Karatara”. Picture: Supplied

Published Nov 8, 2023


As the year-end fatigue starts weighing heavily on everyone, there is no better time to start unwinding with a theatre show or two.

And there are plenty of amazing offerings to consider, including family-friendly ones.


First, let’s look at the new productions, one of which is the critically acclaimed dance drama, “Karatara”.

Fresh off a successful run in Cape Town, the production will be on at the refurbished Barney Simon Theatre at The Market Theatre from November 9 to 26.

According to the press release, “Karatara” is a deeply personal inter-disciplinary dance-drama that deals with the loss of family, home, community and land.

It looks at the complex racial and social politics of the area around the Karatara River and explores the role of the media.

On October 29, 2018, the “Knysna fires” left the community devastated. This masterfully woven production is born from the embers of that painful time when the community lost their homes and loved ones.

“Karatara” encapsulates the burgeoning politics that arose as many grappled with being homeless and the prospect of starting over was overwhelming.

Politics played an integral role in the aftermath as the dual ownership of land between the Western Cape Province and the National Department of Public Works became a stumbling block in land reform projects.

“Karatara” won Best Debut Production after debuting at the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK) in 2022, a Fiësta award for Best Design and, earlier this year, two Fleur Du Cap awards for Best Lighting and Best Sound Design.

The accolades are not just high praise; they validate the hard work that has gone into the compelling stage production that is directed by Gideon Lombard. Shaun Oelf and Wilken Calitz share the writing credits.

Where: Barney Simon Theatre at The Market Theatre.

When: From November 9 to 26, shows are at 3pm and 7pm.

Cost: R100 to R200 through Webtickets or via The Market Theatre’s website.

“Defending the Caveman”

Craig Johnson in “Defending the Caveman”. Picture: Supplied

The production needs no introduction and it has been reworked over time. Starring Craig Jackson, it is directed by Aurelia Stratton.

Back by popular demand, the one-man comedy looks at the differences between men and women, which has sparked healthy debate among the sexes.

The show was originally conceived by US comedian Rob Becker, who, in making relatable observations on the male-female dynamic in relationships, latched onto a winning stage show.

The SA version includes the nuances we have come to expect and that have been ingrained in many of us since childhood.

The rib-tickling offering has woven in the challenges of Covid, the conflict across the world and load shedding.

The overview say: “’Defending the Caveman’ offers plenty of highs and lows as it unpacks the Neanderthal-esque behaviour of today’s men.

Aside from tickling the funny bone, the conversation is thought-provoking.

Where: Theatre on the Square.

When: Currently on until December 2, at 7.30pm.

Cost: R200 from Computicket or book at the theatre by calling 011 883 8606.

“Peter Pan”

As you prepare to let your hair down over the festive period, it doesn’t mean you will have to find different activities for the whole family.

Janice Honeyman’s pantomime “Peter Pan” is the perfect choice for the young and young at heart.

As for the principal cast, Honeyman, wearing the hat of writer and director, has Sandi Dlangalala playing Peter Pan, Ben Voss as Captain Hook, Michael Richard as Captain Hook’s sidekick, Smee, Kiruna-Lind Devar as Wendy, David Arnold Johnson as Dame Clementina Coconut and newcomer Virtuous Kandemiri as Tinkerbell.

On working with Honeyman, Dlangalala said: “I worked with her on a musical last year, which did very well. To work with Janice is such a privilege and I am so glad that I have gotten the opportunity.

“For someone who has decades and decades of directing experience to be guiding you through the process is invaluable.

“And she understands panto as she’s been doing it for 32 years apart from her other work, she’s got such a wonderful understanding of making it easy for us to grasp. She’s just a wonderful, wonderful, teacher.”

As for what the audience can look forward to, he said: “They can expect a magical experience and fun and adventure. It’s gotten back to classic panto storytelling with good versus evil, with immense adventures in between.”

Where: The Mandela Stage at Joburg Theatre.

When: On until December 24.

Cost: R130 to R360 at Webtickets.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

VR Theatrical and the Maynardville Trust brings Shakespeare’s magical comedy to Joburg.

Directed by Geoffrey Hyland, audiences will step into the bewitching world of Athenian forests, where romance, mischief and the whimsical realm of fairies collide with comedy and romance.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” tells the tale of love-struck couples, eccentric actors and mischievous fairies, blurring the line between reality and fantasy.

The iconic play is as relevant today as it was in Shakespeare’s time, exploring the complexities of human relationships, the power of dreams and the unpredictability of love.

This results in a hilarious and chaotic journey of love and self-discovery featuring mistaken identities, playful gender swops, magical spells and mischievous pranks.

Where: Pieter Toerien Theatre, Monte Casino.

When: November 8 to 19.

Cost: R150 to R300 via Webticket. Age restriction 13.