Back Row Writing: Review of Dani and the Lion

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Daneel van der Walt photo by Nardus Engelbrecht

Reviewed by Diana Crandall

Cabaret • Running Time: 65 mins
Performance, music & lyrics by Daneel van der Walt | Performance & musical arrangement by Roelof Colyn | Direction & design by Jason Potgieter | Presented by the Instant Arts Collective

20 July – 1 August 2015

If you could write the beat of your own drum, what would be its tempo?

In ‘Dani and the Lion’, it’s ever-changing. A kaleidoscope of covers and original songs, the cabaret-style show teased audiences for three nights last week at Alexander Upstairs in Cape Town. Serving as a preview for its full two-week run in July, the audience tapped their toes and sang along as Dani (Daneel van der Walt) and Leo the depressed lion (Roelof Colyn) performed for more than an hour Wednesday through Friday night.

The music and lyrics in the show, composed almost entirely by van der Walt, ranged vastly in sound and message. From throaty, emotional ballads to absurd (but genuine) rag-time duets, the music changed to reflect the mind of a “rather charming and somewhat quirky chick.” After all, what type of life has someone led if its soundtrack only has one genre on it?

The overlying message of the cabaret, Colyn and van der Walt say, is unrequited love. “Love is joy and hurt and everything in between,” Colyn said. With that unrequited love comes the need for a lot of laughter, which ‘Lion’ is in no short supply of. Audiences howled throughout much of the show as Dani and Leo tackled everything from being bullied to being left at the altar.

Daneel van der Walt and Roelof Colyn photo by Nardus Photography

Daneel van der Walt and Roelof Colyn photo by Nardus Photography

If you think you won’t get cold feet, the show will be back from July 20th- 1st August at the Alexander Upstairs.

Finally, when it comes to storyline, don’t expect a clear plot. If you don’t find it linear, that’s because life isn’t. Lose yourself with the music and madness of Dani and Leo, and if at first you find it absurd, give it a little time. As Dani says: “you’ll adjust.”