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Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Pic: Sheldon Campbell, Nomonde Matiwane, Shona Johnson and Bandile Mkhize with (front) Brian Khawula

Garth Anderson’s presentation likely to enchant parents and grandparents as much as their offspring. (Review by Lynne Goodman)

Garth Anderson’s presentation of Puss In Boots, currently running in the Durban Botanic Gardens, is likely to enchant parents and grandparents as much as their offspring.

Once again, the seasoned children’s show producer has come up trumps. His latest fun fairy tale purrs happily throughout its 60 minute running time – and judging by the response at the premiere, it is geared to appeal to the young of all ages.

This time Anderson has adapted Charles Perrault’s fable about the fabulous feline who saves his impoverished owner via a range of clever ruses which get him to meet a king and marry his beautiful daughter. Manipulation is the ultimate strength of a cat and a happy-ever-after ending is on the cards from the start, though the scheming feline has to sort out a little mess with the fearsome Ogre in the middle.

Wisely, the award-winning Anderson sticks with the charming simplicity of the French original and lets the story speak for itself - with the aid of some wonderfully quirky touches and an abundantly committed cast.

Nomonde Matiwane is a purrfect cat in a hat with a specially evocative miaow. As the poor Miller’s son Nathaniel, student Brian Khawula makes an aptly romantic suitor for the spunky Princess Poppyblossom played by Shona Johnson. Bandile Mkhize has a resounding voice and presence as King Bonnyface and Sheldon Campbell is a show stealer in his role as the growling Ogre.

Again on the strength of the opening show, children can’t wait to rush up onto the stage and perhaps would welcome even more audience participation. There is no shortage of participation from the odd ha-de-da vocalizing overhead in this bucolic setting.

Puss In Boots is particularly felicitous in the Botanic Gardens which is home to some well cared for, contented and sterilized pussies and the production has a very persuasive educational message about the positive power of cats.

Performances every morning except Sunday at 10h00 at Under The Fig Tree, the open air theatre above the tearoom. There is plentiful bench seating – just take a cushion and a hat and possibly a picnic basket. Tickets R50 (R40 children and senior citizens) available at the entrance to the theatre area.

Children’s charitable organizations are invited to attend free. Call the Actors Co-operative on 031 462 5437 or 083 833 8855. – Lynne Goodman