Taking Aim at the Goals in Post-Apartheid South Africa

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BAFANA REPUBLIC 3: PENALTY SHOOTOUT. Directed by Mandla Mbothwe, with Lungi Pinda. At the Baxter Theatre until June 27. TYRONE AUGUST reviews.

THE latest instalment in playwright Mike van Graan's satirical series, Bafana Republic, once again loosely uses the 2010 Fifa World Cup as the background for his commentary on post-apartheid South Africa.

It is forgivable, therefore, to resort to sports imagery to describe the result: on target, most of the time. Yet, like our national football team Bafana Bafana, at times it becomes so dazzled by its own skills that it trips over its own feet and loses control of the ball.

Bafana Republic 3: Penalty Shootout kicks off with a sketch of a cleaner - otherwise known as a "sanitary engineer" - at Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport.

From the moment former University of Cape Town drama student Pinda takes to the stage, it is clear here is a generously-talented performer. He effortlessly holds the attention of the audience during the hour-long performance.

The cleaner makes some cheeky comments about the toilet habits of various nationalities. Here Van Graan clearly signals that this is no tame, politically correct affair.

In the next sketch, his voice becomes more acerbic. Through the character of a shady priest, he intones: "The Fifa World Cup will deliver you from poverty."

The new Green Point Stadium - earlier described as 1km from the sea and 50km from the townships - is referred to cynically as "the promised land".

But then Van Graan appears to change his game plan.

He tackles "celebrity adoptions" in the next segment, with Madonna predictably being the main focus. Here there is some clever wordplay (Malawi/Malema), but this serves only to further lead the satire off-target.

The James Bond ("Jimmy Blond") sketch is far more successful. The mysterious Joost van der Westhuizen video comes in for some scrutiny, as does Helen Zille's Botox treatment (under the movie title On Her Majesty's Secret Service).

Also coming in for some close attention is Thabo Mbeki in the sketch on "Dictators 101" (some murmurs of disbelief were heard coming from the audience at the playwright's no-holds-barred commentary). …