'Acerbic, merciless and funny’

Playwright, poet and dramaturge Dr Anton Krueger has been exceedingly prolific of late.

The Rhodes Drama lecturer has written three books recently: Experiments in Freedom- issues of identity in new South African Drama, for which he was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Book Award 2011; a poetry anthology called Everyday Anomalies; and Shaggy, a collection of ramblings/monologues he co-wrote with Pravasan Pillay.

The latter was launched at NELM’s Eastern Star Gallery recently, producing chuckles and a fair amount of squirming as Krueger’s deliberately banal brand of humour was shared with the gathering.

Prominent local poet, Harry Owen, who introduced the book, revealed how it was written in a remarkable way after Pillay and Krueger struck up an online friendship a few years ago. Finding that their shared a subversive brand of black humour, they decided to co-write what they call “fourteen stories written by creeps, losers and an idiot”. 

The two have only met face to face on two occasions yet their writing seamlessly melds into a distinctive and indistinguishable style. As Owen noted, one doesn’t know who wrote what.  One of these ramblings, The Actress, came about when Krueger sent Pillay an article about a vacuous actress expressing her regret that her twin babies couldn’t share in her elation for an award she has yet to receive. Pillay is currently based in Sweden.

Shaggy was launched in Pretoria and Cape Town earlier this year, where some of the pieces were performed by professional actors. Owen describes the effect of reading it as “hilarious but uncomfortable you squirm in your seat, asking yourself, could I be that one?”

Deliciously subversive and filled with bathos, almost everyone and everything is raked over the coals; from self-important academics to delusional community leaders; parodying the many idiocies of South African life. “He puts a pin into pomposity, ego and ignorance... deflates self-delusions, but does it lightly, with a smile” says Owen. He likened the seemingly pointless humour to Monty Python, Alan Bennet (Adding: “now that’s a compliment!”) and Ken Kesey’s One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest .“Biting, cutting commentary, acerbic, merciless but above all, funny,” he concluded.

Krueger then read “The Activist”. It is told from the rather warped perspective of the ‘leader’ of the Margate University Communist Society, who chastises fellow members for not forgoing their cell phones and continually updating their Facebook status.

It soon becomes a jumbled ride into the mind of a down-and-out, power hungry washed-out student, who puts his foot into it by inadvertently revealing his own admiration for high status jobs and fat salaries, coupled an (un)healthy penchant for Grand Theft Auto. Packed with gems such as: “Suggestions for lectures entitled ‘Revolutionising 24-hour clock time’ and ‘Why poor people have less money,’” Krueger had the audience guffawing with laughter, concluding the banal and absurd diatribe with the immensely ironic “...now that’s enough laissez-faire discussion for one meeting!”

Photo and story by Anna-Karien Otto.


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