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Friday, December 11, 2009


(Pic by Val Adamson: Back: Amy Saville, Lauren Rose and Sam Hlophe with front: Afzal Kahn, Shona Johnson and Tiki Nxumalo (replaced by Nhlakanipho Manqele).)

New musical written by Chantal Snyman is firmly Durban oriented and offers much fun and nonsense. (Review by Caroline Smart)

It’s an average day at Joe’s Panel Beaters. Things are not going well. Their beloved boss has died recently and his daughter Vanessa (Lauren Rose), who has taken over the company, is not very popular. Business is quiet, there is an absence of customers and the phone is ominously silent. In fact, whenever it does ring receptionist Chanel (Shona Johnson) nearly leaps out of her skin. She is having an affair with a man who she has since discovered is married and is terrified that it will be his wife out to kill her!

Veteran panel beater Archie (Afzal Khan) and his colleague Sizwe (Nhlakanipho Manqele) set about the day’s work, chaffing cleaner Sli (Sam Hlophe) and the new female panel beater Jamie (Amy Saville) and grumbling about the different brand of tea Vanessa has taken to buying for them.

Things tumble from bad to worse when it is discovered that not only are there insufficient funds to have a Christmas party but the payment of their salaries may also be in jeopardy. However, in true spirit of Christmas, they decide to go for broke and put on their own Christmas party and invite their clients and the local community. Fired by their own enthusiasm, they prepare a show to entertain the party-goers.

They use whatever is to hand in the panel beating workshop to create a Christmassy feel and then launch into their well-meaning but somewhat chaotic presentation which includes modern versions of well-known carols as well as those in Zulu or Afrikaans. There are also changed renditions of popular numbers such as Babelaas (Barbara Anne), Buy a Round (I Get Around) and Everybody was Dopping ( Kung Fu Fighting).

The show is written by Chantal Snyman who co-directs with Themi Venturas, the latter being the musical director. The material is very much Durban oriented with Afzal Khan holding it all together with his comedy skills and good-natured capacity to handle the wildest piece of nonsense. His fans won’t be disappointed in his highly energetic performance, which includes him appearing as a “Sugar Plum Fairy”, net skirt and all!

Nhlakanipho Manqele has good dancing skills but needs to improve his musical ear as does Lauren Rose. Shona Johnson is vibrant and bouncy and Sam Hlophe is very amusing when we first meet her as she cleans up the premises, grumbling all the while. I really enjoyed Amy Saville’s solo number Out Here On My Own, sung with sincerity and passion.

This is a homegrown work and deserves support and I believe it will develop further as it goes along. There were serious sound problems last night at the opening but I understand that these will be corrected as will various vocal imbalances.

Presented by TheatreBIZ, The Credit Crunch Christmas Party runs until December 30 from Wednesdays to Saturdays at 20h00 with an extra performance on Saturdays at 17h00. (Sundays t 14h00 and 18h00).Tickets R85 (R50 for concessions and early shows). To book call Thandeka on 031 305 6889 or email Catalina Theatre Tickets now available online at or at or at

The Catalina Theatre is still functioning thanks to from Rainbow Chicken, National Arts Council and Ethekwini Municipality. – Caroline Smart