REVIEW: The South Afreakins ★★★★★

The second show I saw at this year’s VAULT Festival was The South Afreakins, a one woman show about a South African couple’s immigration to New Zealand and their quest to find ‘home’. The show had received great reviews from it’s run at last year’s Fringe, and so my expectations were quite high. I’d also never seen a one-person show before (not that I remember, anyway) so was intrigued as to how this would play out.

Inspired by her own parents’ history, show-creator and performer Robyn Paterson plays both of her parents, elder couple Gordon and Helene, in a series of vignettes conveying the process of them deciding to move from their unsafe, but familiar, community in South Africa to a safe haven in New Zealand.
Paterson plays the roles incredibly well, switching from grumpy, slouching Gordon to chipper Helene in an instant – and none of the dialogue or plot is lost just because she is playing both roles. A particular highlight is the scene in which the couple are both in bed arguing, turning the lampshade on and off, which was reminiscent of my own grandparents and how they would argue. The comedic timing of Paterson is superb and well-executed; she has a knack for one-liners and for repeating jokes in a way which makes them funnier, rather than because she has run out of material, as some comedians do.


Though the performance is incredibly funny and great fun to watch, it also has a lot of heart and Paterson knows when it is appropriate to soften the tone – she has the audience right in the palms of her hands. The revelation of the couple’s son’s death, and the phone call which brings life-changing news for Helene is handled delicately, and Paterson plays these solemn scenes as well as she does her bubbly opening scenes. There is a wonderful variation of tone in the performance.

A wonderful performance showcasing Paterson’s incredible abilities as an actor, as well as an interesting look at migration and what the concept of ‘home’ is.

For more information about the show, visit:

I was given a press ticket for this show, but as usual, all opinions are my own.

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