Loyiso Gola

Loyiso Gola: Unlearning


Gilded Balloon Teviot, Edinburgh

Loyiso Gola was one of our favourite acts last year. Although Dude, Where’s My Lion? (https://bouquetsbrickbatsreviews.com/2016/08/21/loyiso-gola-dude-wheres-my-lion/) was his first Fringe show, it was by no means the work of a newcomer: Gola is an experienced comedian, famous in his home country, South Africa, where he is best known as the host and co-creator of the TV show, Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola. So we are excited to see his new show, and looking forward to an evening that will both challenge and entertain.

Unfortunately, I think we get Gola on a bad night this time. It’s bound to happen sometimes. The Fringe is long, and this last stretch can be tough, especially midweek when audience numbers are down. It can be hard to keep your head up, and yet, somehow, the show has to go on. I don’t know if I’m right, of course, but I do know that Gola seems to be lacking energy tonight, and that his performance appears a little lacklustre.

Unlearning is primarily about confronting stereotypes, and about changing the behaviour patterns that seem ingrained by what you’ve learned. There are tantalising hints as to what this show could be (and may well have been on other nights), as Gola deals with issues of masculinity, race, white privilege and our ignorance of human history. I’d like to see these elements explored further: a bit less low-level grumbling about the service in Edinburgh shops, and more of this incisive stuff. There’s a lot of fascinating material hovering beneath the surface of this show, and I know this gifted comic is more than capable of bringing it to light.

Just not tonight, I guess. Ah well.

3 stars

Susan SIngfield

Edfest Bouquets 2016




It’s been another amazing August for us at Bouquets & Brickbats. We’re exhausted after a month of non-stop theatre and comedy! We have seen some absolutely fantastic stuff, covering a huge range of ideas. Here’s our pick of the best we’ve seen at this year’s Fringe:

Drama Bouquets

  1. Neontopia / Wales Millennium Centre – A Good Clean Heart by Alun Saunders
  2. Aurora Nova – The Blind Date Project by Bojana Novakovic
  3. Rainbow Class by Vivienne Acheampong
  4. Gaggle Babble / National Theatre Wales – Wonderman by Daf James
  5. Something for the Weekend – Royal Vauxhall by Desmond O’Connor

Monologue Bouquets

  1. NJC Productions – The Way the City Ate the Stars by Will Greenway
  2. George Dillon – Stunning the Punters (& Other Stories) by Berkoff, Sproat and Dostoevsky
  3. Lorenzo Novani – Cracked Tiles by Lorenzo Novani
  4. Impi Theatre Company – The South Afreakins by Robyn Paterson
  5. Berk’s Nest – Vaudeville by Tom Neenan

Stand-up Comedy Bouquets

  1. Bridget Christie – Mortal
  2. Sarah Kendall – Shaken 
  3. Loyiso Gola – Dude, Where’s My Lion?
  4. Garrett Millerick – The Dreams Stuff is Made Of
  5. John Robertson – Arena Spectacular

‘Ones to Watch Out For’ Bouquets

  1. Phosporos Theatre – Dear Home Office
  2. Chris Dugdale – Full Circle
  3. Flabbergast Theatre – Tatterdemalion
  4. Teateri – Evil by Jesper Arin
  5. Amy Howerska – Smashcat

Loyiso Gola: Dude, Where’s My Lion?



Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh

Loyiso Gola’s show, Dude, Where’s My Lion? manages to be both gentle and uncompromising, challenging the “not at all diverse” audience to think about what racism is, and just how privileged we really are.

He’s friendly and charming, but he doesn’t pull any punches. Two (white) audience members reveal they used to live in South Africa. One says she is from Eastern Transvaal. “We don’t call it that any more,” Gola says with a smile,. “That’s an apartheid name.” The other says he was in the mining industry. Gola shakes his head and replies, ruefully, that miners were expected to live on £300 a month. “It’s not enough to eat.”

It’s a funny, carefully crafted show, making some very important points. The tale of his encounter with a homeless man in London, for example, is particularly sharp, highlighting the false narratives that we are fed, and which colour our impression of ‘Africa.’ Likewise, a bit about Gola’s education in a Muslim school shows that knowledge is vital for understanding. If this all sounds very serious, that’s because the underlying message is serious, but Gola’s comedic skill is what drives the show – and what makes his message accessible.

And it’s an important message. This isn’t a ‘preaching to the converted’ show. I’ll bet that most of us inside this little bunker consider ourselves liberal and anti-racist. But I, for one, leave feeling challenged and humbled, and with a determination to find out more about the countries and cultures that make up our world.

4.6 stars

Susan Singfield