Pretina De Jager does not suck

Klara Van Wyk in You Suck pointing at her flow chart on what she needs to be in the A group at school. (photo credit: Nadim Nyker)

Pretina De Jager is spunky, naive and unashamedly herself. A first language Afrikaans speaker, Pretina gets put into an English high school in Grade Nine, which sees her wanting to be in “the A group”. But, she needs a belly ring and to be “70% pretty”. You Suck and Other Inescapable Truths sees Klara Van Wyk hilariously break the hearts of the audience as her character, Pretina, explores her new world. By Nadim Nyker.

You Suck and Other Inescapable Truths makes you think of your first crush in school and getting ready a bit longer in the morning because you wanted to ask her to the school social (or was that just me?). That naivety and excitement resonates with a global audience- the growing pains of fitting in and being comfortable in your own skin. However, the imagery Pretina brings to life, in between her comically-placed chirps, is a truly South African model-c school setting.

Entwined in the high school battles of Pretina, Van Wyk brings to life an economic and cultural landscape from the eyes of a young girl. Pretina notes that no one likes her aunt because she smokes dagga, “What is a gateway drug. What means that if Monday you smoke dagga, Tuesday you will smoke cocaine”.

Van Wyk brings in a unique experience, drawing her audience into Pretina’s teenage gossip session, allowing for witty interactions and secret rants. They are teased by her naivety as she blurts out her sentences and shows off her hip-hop dance moves, confident and proud. This is in contrast to the awkward, lonely and severely “uncool” character she represents.

These are the reasons why Pretina can't get a belly ring. (Photo credit: Nadim Nyker)
These are the reasons why Pretina can’t get a belly ring. (Photo: Nadim Nyker)

The set is striking and colourful, filled with boards that say ”How 2 B good in HipHop” and “Reasons why not” as Pretina plans her life. Van Wyk makes smart use of posters (which show letters written about her) and lighting to add a rich and exciting dynamic to You Suck and Other Inescapable Truths.

Van Wyk takes Hollywood character tropes such as the “the leader of the A group” Sarah Walker, and blue-eyed surfer boy Jonathan and weaves the life of starry-eyed Pretina around them as she continues to not fit in. Pretina’s story is felt by the audience as it comes to an end with the profound poem of Desiderata:

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Being nominated for best performance in a revenue, cabaret or one-person show at the 2016 Fleur du Cap awards, it is clear that Van Wyk is just getting started.