World Cup fever has hit London. Hostels, hotels and many of the capital’s 6,000 pubs, bars and restaurants are waving colourful flags from across the world in celebration of the world’s largest sporting event (click here for details of another decent-sized sporting event coming 2012). Over 300 languages spoken in London so your football team – whoever they may be – has a following and a welcome here.
If you’re in London for the next few days and are keen to learn more about the World Cup and watch quality theatre at the same time, check out live comedy show called Bend it Like Beauty. This is a one-man performance by highly acclaimed and award winning South African actor Ben Voss. He plays well-to-do business woman of the year Beauty Ramampelepele who has flown to London to welcome the world to the World Cup in South Africa.
This charming satire offers a fascinating insight into the humour and openness of South Africa and its people, right here in London. It is an hour-and-a- half comedy performance that had me in stitches. Ben Voss offers hilarious tongue-in-cheek tips on best practice for attending the World Cup: “when you pack – take trainers, you will have to run” and “please, if you’re British, don’t dance”.
This is theatre away from the flashing lights and big-set productions of the West End and based just a short distance from the Brit Oval: the home of another much-loved British sport (cricket). The play is a simple, comic satire with a wonderful script that manages to remain light and funny while still managing to convey serious truths about a young African democracy in the high-profile role of host nation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Mid-way through a fascinating chat with her audience Beauty answers the phone with “no, don’t worry its fine, I’ve had enough now”. Not too long after this she is gone – leaving us wanting more from the magician who made one and a half hours in a small basic theatre feel like an entire week with a good friend.
Bend it Like Beauty runs at Oval House Theatre until 12 June 2010.