Reviews War is Over

War is Over

It might seem a little strange; a musical about serving in the old South African army set to Beatles music. But the combination works, mainly because of the goofy charm and spectacular singing voice of Pierre van Heerden. He can swing from singing a ballad to belting out a rock ‘n roll number that gets the audience on their feet, all the while dressed in “troopie” browns and army boots.

Borderline, directed by Vanessa Harris and Ash Searle, at the 2015 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. The one man show, starring Pierre Van Heerden, took the audience through the highs, lows, horror and humour of being a South African army conscript in the seventies.  (Photo: CuePix/Sithasolwazi Kentane)

Borderline, directed by Vanessa Harris and Ash Searle, at the 2015 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. The one man show, starring Pierre Van Heerden, took the audience through the highs, lows, horror and humour of being a South African army conscript in the seventies.
(Photo: CuePix/Sithasolwazi Kentane)

The idea for the show came from director Vanessa Harris, whose father wrote a book about his army experiences in the 1970s. The story is based on some true events, telling how a gormless plaasjapie survives basic training by singing Beatles songs. But it is done with a light and deft touch, glossing over the politics and controversy, and just tells a simple tale of “basics” from the troopie’s point of view.

“People come to me after the show, guys in their 50s, and tell me how this was just the way it was,” says Pierre. “Everything in this show, it happened to them.”

So, in a sense, this is pure nostalgia, that is likely to appeal only to an audience of a certain age and upbringing. But in another sense, it is a piece of our recent history, related with a light touch, and of course brings the timeless Beatles songs to an entirely new generation.

So, if you feel like an hour of laughter with a little bit of reality, interspersed with really rocking sing-a-long Beatles songs, head off to the border and see Borderline.

Nikki Moore
Cue Guest Writer

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