national Arts Festival Banner

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Four-hander mystery-comedy where the audience has a few select moments to decide what happens next in the play. (Review by Shika Budhoo)

Running as a Fringe production on the National Arts Festival, Butlers and Bridesmaids is a four-hander mystery-comedy where the audience has a few select moments to decide what happens next in the play. The setting: the Worthington Mansion. The characters are all to meet here, to celebrate the upcoming union of Olivia, Mrs. Worthington’s daughter, to Michael Mortimer, a man she met six months ago.

The couple’s journey to the mansion reveals the quirks of the many characters that become involved. Constantly, the old setting of the house juxtaposes with the style of modern language they speak. Coinciding with this, a serial murderer is on the prowl nearby. The threat of being at the mansion slowly increases into a frenzy of comical tragedies for all.

The play written and directed by Justin Wilkinson has a mix of interesting characters and the performers played out impressive accents. The accents are more European than South African. There were delightful French accents, a competent Russian accent, different sweet and sour British accents amongst the lot. The characters: an English butler Burton; his mistress Countess Worthington; her daughter Olivia; Olivia’s fiancĂ© Michael; Olivia’s bridesmaids Lucy and Nicole; Michael’s friend Wayne Olivia’s brother Troy and Troy’s girlfriend Ann, a French maid Monique; a French chef Sebastian; a Russian maid Anastascia; and a sorcerer. All the characters are played by the four performers on stage - Evelyn Ball, Karen Visser, Andrew Roux and Justin Wilkinson – who performed with high energy to a full but rather quiet auditorium. Their first show of the festival went off with no major technical difficulties at the Highlander.

The plot of the play is slightly reliant on audience participation. So apart from not being able to complete the story, I dare not mention anything more that may spoil your experience if you decide to watch the show. The play has its moments, I watched it with my boyfriend and found the relationship commentary in the script entertaining, for a while. It was a strange play for me because of its frequent flitting through genres and using dialogue from different decades (if not, centuries) simultaneously. However, I enjoyed watching the four actors successfully change character and full costume quickly and without any major stops in the play. The music choice to introduce characters and set moods and tones of the changing scenes, was a great selection of identifiable popular songs: old and contemporary.

Butlers and Bridesmaids innovatively used the programme to determine the audience vote. One side of the programme yellow, the other side blue. At strategic points in the play, the audience picks the yellow or the blue option; after revealing it a tally is taken and the actor play out the corresponding scene voted for. So if you happen to watch this show, keep your programmes handy.