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Wednesday, November 26, 2008


One of the world’s most popular comedy-thrillers to appear at Catalina over the festive season.

One of the world’s most popular comedy-thrillers, the uproariously animated whodunit Shear Madness, will be staged for the first time in South Africa, when it comes to the Catalina Theatre over the festive season from November 27.

Shear Madness is the world’s second longest running play (after Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap) and probably America’s greatest theatrical success story. It combines comedy, a juicy whodunit murder mystery… opportunities for the audience to give input to help craft the script – and the resolution of the murder. The ending of the play is different every night as audience members hear clues, question the characters and solve the crime. The humour also features current affairs so the cast amend the script depending on newsworthy events of the time.

The play is set in a unisex hair salon in the city in which it plays, ie the Catalina production will be set in Durban. The landlady, famed veteran concert pianist Isabel Czerny, who lives above the shop, is murdered – stabbed with a pair of scissors. The theatre audience gets involved in the action by questioning the actors and attempting to solve the crime.

The characters include chatty camp hairdresser Tom Whitcomb (Marc Kay) and his flirty streetwise assistant Barbara Demarco (Daisy Spencer). The customers in the salon played by Clare Mortimer; Michael Gritten; Dhaveshan Govender; and Loyiso MacDonald – all contributing to the lead up to a madcap murder reminiscent of the Marx Brothers. The end result is a surprising mixture of audience sleuthing and up-to-the minute improvisational humour.

Durban producer / director Themi Venturas was required to travel to the States to be trained by the international team on the necessary improv skills, and briefed about the production process to ensure that the Durban production meets the international standards and that the cast have the necessary improvisation and unscripted performance skills.

Theatre producers Marilyn Abrams and Bruce Jordan acquired rights for a murder mystery originally titled Scherenschnitt, by Swiss playwright Paul Portner and adapted it into the improv masterpiece, Shear Madness. It opened in Boston, USA, at the Charles Playhouse Stage II in January 1980. The Boston production is the second longest running non-musical play in the world (after The Mousetrap), and the production at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington DC is the second longest running play ever, having opened in August 1987.

Every night, the audience member with the weirdest hair style gets to win a surprise prize with compliments of Schwartzkopf.

Shear Madness runs at Catalina Theatre, Wilson’s Wharf, from November 27 to December 31. Tickets R80 (R40 concessions) with Buy One Get One Free on Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the first week. For corporate block bookings, charity fundraisers and show / meal deals contact Thandeka on 031 305 6889 or 031 305 7612 or e-mail

Booking is at Strictly Tickets.

The Catalina Theatre is still functioning thanks to the incredible generosity and support from Rainbow Chicken