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Spectacular costumes set to dazzle audiences when Nataniel’s Combat hits cinema screens

Acclaimed South African singer, songwriter and entertainer Nataniël appears on the big screen for the first time ever in Combat, an up-tempo, sumptuously designed show which investigates and celebrates the uniform. Combat is the first ever theatrical production in South Africa to make it to the big screen. The film opens on 3 February and will play for one week only at Ster Kinekor and Nu Metro cinemas.

Through a combination of original songs, satire, comedy and fantasy, the show interrogates the uniform and how clothes convey power and authority. Key to Combat is a series of lavishly constructed, completely over-the-top costumes that take the concept of the uniform to entirely new heights.

“When a police officer puts on a uniform, for example, they are perceived in a very different way by the public, and often embody each person’s stereotypes about all police officers,” says Floris Louw, Combat costume designer. “Research suggests that clothing has a powerful impact on how people are perceived. This goes for everyone who wears uniforms. It’s widely known that this attire has a profound psychological effect both on those who view it and those who wear it. Combat captures the essence of those stereotypes with the costume design forming an integral part of the message behind the production. It really is a visual feast.”

Combat subverts familiar emblems of power that we all know so well in a show that is pure entertainment. Louw works on all Nataniël’s costumes, and is known for always doing an excellent job. In Combat, he has been given free reign and outdone himself with a stunning range of re-imagined uniforms, and more sequins, beading and crystals than ever before.

“We look at power and how it is clothed,” says Louw. “For centuries people have been feared or admired for their uniforms, from emperors to soldiers to church leaders to the police, doctors, nurses, servants, butlers, chauffeurs, firemen and sailors. It’s not only about authority, but also about the sheer sexiness of uniforms in popular culture. The show plays with power and titillation. We’ve taken uniforms old and new and looked at cruelty, corruption, sexual attraction, beauty, temptation and fascination.”

Tired of everyone going on about Lady Gaga’s costumes, Nataniël holds nothing back in Combat, even though it means he has to go through more than 20 wardrobe changes. “He even finds a way of getting into and out of a costume made entirely of gold metal,” says Louw.  “Nataniël has been doing what Lady Gaga is doing now for more than 20 years. In this production, he outshines her. He literally wears constructions.

Louw has a longstanding working relationship with Nataniel and has designed costumes for many of his shows. A graduate of the Tshwane University of Technology, where he received the Chancellor’s medal for outstanding achievement, he started designing for Nataniël House Music, creating the wardrobe for stage productions including Walking with Wizards, My Name is Diamond (for which he received a Naledi nomination), The Moses Machine, The Hong Kong Kiss, and Men Who Fly. He has also illustrated two of Nataniël’s books, Kaalkop and Kaalkop Journal. In addition, he has designed the costumes for several of Nataniël’s Christmas productions, concert tours, music videos, album covers and television appearances.

Combat the stage show originally played at Emperor’s Palace in the first quarter of 2011, where it was a massive success. It followed on Nataniël’s previous two “big C’s”, Coronation and Cathedral, with all three shows examining people’s obsession with power.

Combat is distributed by Indigenous Film Distribution (Pty) Ltd.