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Saturday, December 6, 2008


(Pictured: Sean de Klerk)

Stop Press! Breaking News! Ellis Pearson cloned at Boho! (Review by Caroline Smart)

Ellis Pearson has taken his brand of theatre around South Africa and the world to major success. Did we ever think we’d find someone to follow in his uniquely distinctive footsteps?

Well, he’s created a clone himself in Sean de Klerk who appears in the one-man show Black Out which opened this morning at the Boho Theatre next door to Beanbag Bohemia.

While Ellis’s work with Bheki Mkhwane and - more recently - S'Dumo Mtshali sees them mirroring perfectly his offbeat style of mime, both actors are solid in a bodily sense. To me, Ellis comes across as almost weightless - an ethereal sprite or will o’ the wisp, seemingly able to slip through a keyhole. Sean has his same lithe, agile and flexible build.

Black Out is Ellis’s first venture as a director and it certainly won’t be his last. The directorial process will see him passing on his valued training from the famed Le Coq Mime School in Paris.

This also goes with his capacity to wrap social responsibility into entertainment and carry such messages through with fun, clever imagery and the immediacy of live theatre. In this way, he vibrantly challenges the imaginations of young people - imaginations that are all too often dulled by too much television.

In the case of Black Out, the theme is global warming. Through the use of clever masks we meet Professor Madman, a scientist who is bitter at not winning the Nobel Prize and is now going to prove to the world that he can switch off the sun forever. Determined to abort his scheme is the delightful Professor Fifi, of the Gallic gesture and floppy hair, who sends for the only two people who can help her.

Here we meet the crazy stuttering inventor Doughnut and beetle-browed ballroom dancer Jock, who set out on an adventure across the ice-caps to find Professor Madman’s lair. Mention is made of fuel-guzzling aeroplanes and vehicles as well as Norwegian fishing trawlers. Props include vacuum devices, toilet rolls, tiny cars and a beautiful miniature aeroplane which looks as if it’s made from a hosepipe connection. With each character and movement – such as climbing ropes or falling with a parachute - clearly defined, Sean enchants his audience at all levels as the race is on to bring back the light. The scene where the glacier moves offered an inspired image!

Black Out is suitable for all ages. This morning’s audiences had some very young children who were enraptured throughout - as were their senior counterparts!

The show runs at the Boho Theatre, next door to Beanbag Bohemia in Windermere Road, until December 31 with performances from Tuesday to Sunday at 11h00. Tickets R40 booked at Computicket. – Caroline Smart

The Boho is also hosting the adult pantomime “Sleeping Beauty and the Little Prick” in the evenings – please note this is DEFINITELY not for children!