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Monday, December 22, 2008


Garth Anderson performs his usual magic with outdoor children’s theatre piece. (Review by Maurice Kort)

If you wish to entertain your young children during the school holidays treat them to Garth Anderson's The Actors Co-operative production of Puss in Boots at the Botanic Gardens Amphitheatre (Under the Fig Tree) where he has performed his magic with what he does so well, his passion for Children's Theatre. For this festive season he has directed his adaptation of The Master Cat by Charles Perrault.

For those not familiar with the story, the Miller dies and leaves his flour mill to the eldest son, his donkey to the middle son, so both can earn a living but the poor youngest son, Nathaniel (Brian Khawula), only inherits a cat and a pair of boots. Who can earn a living from a cat? Don't underestimate the wiles of Puss in Boots. Nomonde Matiwane is superb as the cute feline of the title with all the appropriate catlike moves. The cat of course manipulates events so that Nathaniel, as the Marquis of Carabat, ingratiates himself to King Bonnyface (Bandile Mkhize) and meets his daughter, Princess Poppyblossom (Shona Johnson) (whose dress incidentally is “to die for”).

What fairy tale would be complete without the arch villain, a suitably evil The Ogre (Sheldon Campbell). The five actors all settle into their roles magnificently from the start and the action flows fast and furious with the capable assistance of the Stage Manager (David Cowley), Assistant Stage Manager (Bandile Mkhize), Costume Supervisor (Lynda Petersen) and Speech Coach (Vera Clare). The cast are indeed to be congratulated on their excellent diction and projection.

The young children in the audience were enthralled, and indeed some mommies also entered into the spirit of the events with great fun being had by all and many giggles being enjoyed by me. There is also much opportunity for audience participation by the young folk in the clever script adaptation.

Also very shrewd on the part of Garth Anderson is to hand out line drawings of the characters in the play to the children for them to colour in, which they did most industriously, while waiting for the audience to drift in to this ideal venue for children's shows. After the show the children are invited to mount the stage to submit their coloured in drawings to receive gifts. I was most impressed how the children all formed a disciplined, most well-behaved queue. Many older children and indeed several adults could learn from their fine example.

The beautifully produced programme deserves special mention, especially as it has become the fashion not to have programmes for several shows nowadays.

Puss in Boots can be enjoyed by young and old at the Durban Botanic Gardens Amphitheatre from December 6 to January 10, 2009, with performances Mondays to Saturdays at 10h00. For booking and more information contact Garth Anderson on 083 883 8855.