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Friday, May 6, 2011


(Pic by Louis Chetty: Matthew Ribnick as the voluble Cindy)

Clever script and superb delivery had opening night audience laughing from beginning to end. (Review by Maurice Kort)

Husband and wife artists Matthew Ribnick and Geraldine Naidoo make a great artistic team. Together they have been the creators of the previous great comedic hits Hoot and The Chilli Boy which have entertained audiences throughout South Africa over the years and their latest hilarious offering Monkey Nuts has now opened at the Elizabeth Sneddon to a most receptive opening night audience who laughed throughout from beginning to end.

This is no surprise as the scripts of Geraldine Naidoo, the writer/director, are very clever. These are frenetically brought to life by Matthew Ribnick in a fast delivery that shows why he is a past Naledi Award winner for Best Comedy Performance.

With minimum props, essentially a variety of hats, even a bonnet for the role of Cindy, dark sunglasses for the car guard character, two chairs and a couple of hat stands to accommodate the hats, Matthew Ribnick morphs from one character to another at lightning speed. He keeps in character faultlessly with each change, especially with the variety of accents, such as Black African, Indian, Scottish etc.

His central character is Edgar Chambers. A bank teller by profession, he is a lonely individual, sadly with no friends, who spends his time entering competitions, TV, radio, internet, newspapers, no matter what, as long as he enters. He often wins, and wins well - unfortunately the prizes are sometimes two tickets and he has no-one to use the second ticket, not a happy situation as he hates waste. Given this state of affairs, he is very taken with a small monkey, Claude, in a cage at the back of a shop but the shopkeeper is adamant that the monkey is not for sale. Given his involvement with competitions, he knows the prices of everything and where the best bargains can be obtained as well as free stuff and special offers. This is eventually turned to good advantage.

Edgar prattles on about the various people in his life from vastly different backgrounds, including Rudolph, a bank colleague, Kevin John a.k.a. KJ, the previously mentioned Cindy and the car guard, Devashni Govender, Raj, Malcolm who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (so the flat is kept immaculately tidy), someone with Tauret's Syndrome (superbly enacted) and many others. His telephone conversation with a Black, very persistent, tele-salesman who uses every sales pitch imaginable, for each one of which Edgar has a squashing reply, is one of the highlights of the show and shows the clever script and superb delivery of Matthew Ribnick. His versatility is also shown in his rendition of snatches of a song and an operatic aria, not forgetting his takeoff of Indian, African and rock dancing.

Monkey Nuts runs at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre until May 15 2011 with booking at Computicket and 083 915 8000. There are half price tickets on Thursdays and Sundays. – Maurice Kort