national Arts Festival Banner

Friday, October 31, 2008


Josette Eales and Libby Allen excel in pithy two-hander. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Fett Diva Productions has now become a theatre company to be reckoned with. Following their excellent double bill of ’Night, Mother and The Lover in August, they are back at the Square Space Theatre on the UKZN Howard College campus with two more productions.

This time, it’s Sybille Pearson’s Sally and Marsha and John Pielmeier’s Agnes of God - two productions that complement each other in this all-too-short season: the first being a pithy and extremely funny two-hander comedy, the second offering a thought-provoking drama that focuses on faith and miracles.

Sally and Marsha are New York housewives living in the same apartment block – Sally in a cramped space occupied by herself, her detergent salesman husband, two children and the occasional cockroach, while Marsha rattles around in an eight-room flat across the hallway with her husband and two foster children, dreading the occasional visits from her detested mother.

Sally is all apple-pie and radiant motherhood, priding herself in her ability to produce a perfectly folded sheet while Marsha (whose middle name is, ironically, Joy) is neurotic and untidy – and not averse to eating peanut butter off her fingers straight out of the jar. Sally is pregnant and tries to instil her philosophies of life – not to mention, conjugal sex - into Marsha. Blessed with some gloriously funny lines, Marsha trashes Sally’s way of life along with her appalling taste in reading material! She tells Sally that the only time she likes nature is when it’s in a book by Robert Hardy.

Inevitable, the roles are reversed and as bookish Marsha begins to discover her potential, Sally becomes introverted as she faces up to some hard truths about her marriage. There are some strange anomalies in the script but Josette Eales and Libby Allen ride over them with strong and believable performances.

As Sally, Josette shines with sincerity, subtly hinting at the inner loneliness of the character whose cries of “I’m fine!” belie her frustrations. With the lion’s share of the laugh lines, Libby Allen (nice to see her back on the Durban stage again) is a delight as the forthright, impatient Marsha.

Well directed by Tamar Meskin, the play charts the development – and near derailment – of their friendship. There are some delightful scenes, particularly one where Sally tells Marsha a “deep dark story” and Marsha’s quick grasp of a whacky card game that sees her on a winning streak. Their arguments erupt into a blazing row, splendid to behold!

As in ’Night, Mother and The Lover, set designer Stephen Woodroffe impressed with his optimum use of this informal venue which is played “in the round” (well, actually ”in the three-quarters”!)

Sally and Marsha runs in tandem with Agnes of God on alternating nights at the Square Space theatre on the UKZN campus until November 9. Bookings or more information on 082 331 9284. – Caroline Smart