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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

GODS, FATE AND A LIBRARIAN

Cape Town production ends Musho festival on a high note. (Review by Maurice Kort)

The Musho International Festival ended on a high note with a nearly full house of a very appreciative audience for the production from Cape Town, directed by Sam Williams and performed by the talented and vivacious Haidee Crowe and Erica Glyn-Jones. With good use of two folding aluminium stepladders in all manner of configurations and several props, as well as imaginative use of their flowing red scarves they enacted a fast paced fun-inspired piece taking a look at three parallel universes, the gods, fate and humanity.

With the opening voice-over in the darkened theatre of the clich├ęd Help Desk patter being parodied as "Please wait, your prayers will be answered; your prayers are important to us .....", one can sense the fun entertainment in store. There are then novel takes on how the universe came into being, first via a flash of light and then by means of a big bang.

The action and dialogue are fast and furious and it is not an easy production to follow. Suffice it to say that the two actors portray many roles switching at great speed from one to the other. First and foremost are their portrayals as the Fates. Their effect on us mere mortals is exemplified by their knitting, a dropped stitch having disastrous consequences. And so they exert their influences on the religions, particularly the gods Pangu and Alfasu, as well as - wait for it, the Banana - and the politics of the world, using the African continent and the country of Lindiwe as their starting base. Mugabe is very recognisable.

By the simple expediency of throwing the scarf over her head, which is most effective, The Librarian figures very prominently in the narrative. Thus the tale of Past, Present and Future unfolds.

The performances of Gods, Fate and a Librarian were at the Catalina Theatre on January 17 at 20h00 and January 18 at 18h00

After the final performance of the festival, there was a brief interval while the last of the voting slips by the audience members were counted for the audience award for the most popular production. The audience then re-entered the theatre with T-Bone Hlahane acting as the Master of Ceremonies and a wonderfully humorous song about a "Special Friend" by Kobus van Heerden, unfortunately only the one as the votes had been counted very quickly.

Several people were acknowledged - namely the PANSA members from the other provinces, the Chairman of the KZN branch, Themi Venturas, and his hard-working committee, particularly Emma Durden, Illa Thompson and Daisy Spencer who had been at the forefront position of front-of-house during the festival. The lighting and sound operators at the Bat Hall Theatre and the Catalina Theatre housing the festival - they had done a great job - and the various sponsors were thanked. Also acknowledged were the Live Wires who had spent hours late into the night writing reviews of the shows so that they could be posted first thing the following mornings on the Musho Festival website.

The highlight of the finale, and what everyone had awaited with eager anticipation – particularly, I am sure, the actors and directors of the various plays - were the awards.

First was the Suliman Award for the Suliman family choice of the best production. Runner-up was Womanhood for which Emma Durden accepted the award for Mary Steward who had already gone back to Port Elizabeth. There was a tie for the best production, which went to Between Cup and Lip and Cell No. 4.

The audience vote for their most enjoyable production was again a tie, Womanhood (accepted again by Mary Steward) and Rain (accepted by the author/actor Mpume Mthombene and director Gisele Turner). All four were well-deserved winners. So ended a very enjoyable and, by all accounts, successful festival. – Maurice Kort