I BELIEVE The Ranga may well be Aaron McIlroy’s best two-hander — and if the press night audience is anything to judge by, then the punters agree.
Originally directed by Steven Stead for the Hilton Arts Festival, the show takes a look at those “cursed” by the ginger gene. Sporting a red-haired wig, McIlroy is, as usual, hilariously manic, and those in the front rows beware as you will no doubt have to participate in those antics.
The premise sees the audience becoming the guests invited to the opening of The Ranga Cultural Centre on the Red Rover reservation.
Hosted by McIlroy and the deadpan Andy Turrell, we learn that people born with red hair are abandoned and left to do the jobs no one else wants, like armpit sniffing for a deodorant company.
Along the way, he shares a few traditional songs, including one titled Someone Ate the Baby ! and another that explains that Turrell was once believed to be a girl called Sue.
I also loved the reworked versions of Pitbull’s Fireball, club hit Selfie, Randy Newman’s Short People and Maroon 5’s Moves Like Jagger.
But theatre-goers also get to see another side to this award-winning Durban performer when he performs on guitar. He and Turrell deliver a great Duelling Banjos and McIlroy’s solo rendition of Don McLean’s beautiful Vincent (Starry Starry Night) is quite simply brilliant. A tribute to the artist Vincent van Gogh, the song tells the of the demons that haunted and finally drove him to take his own life. Van Gogh was red-haired.
The Ranga is undeniably funny, but also unexpectedly thought-provoking thanks to the way it deals with prejudice. Unmissable