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Friday, June 17, 2011


(Jason Andrew, Roland Fisher, Tim Pullen, Don Hastings and Hans Dettman)

Lennon lyrics dictate storyline in show with strong potential. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Opening last night at the Heritage Theatre in Hillcrest is a show with the clever title, When Life Gives You Lennons. It is produced and directed by Gary McKenzie who also designed the set.

Gary McKenzie set out to do something different for Heritage Theatre in place of the usual tribute shows usually seen at this venue and this production has a dramatic element which places it squarely in the category of true “supper theatre”.

Featuring John Didlick, Katy Moore and Jo Rowlands, it creates a scenario dictated by the songs and lyrics of John Lennon.

We meet Mr and Mrs Rigby (who have a cousin called Eleanor!), an average middle working class couple (Didlick and Rowlands). Half of the stage represents their fairly shambolic living room, complete with ironing board and clothes strewn around. The long-suffering wife arrives home full of cold to find her out-of-work husband lounging on the sofa, channel-hopping and watching sport.

In the next door flat is an attractive divorcée (Moore) who is bitter about her ex-husband and there is much amusing comment on what she thinks about men! As the show progresses, she relaxes a little and one day, she dates for the first time since her divorce.

So two scenarios run side by side – the show opens with both women singing Help which sets the scene. They each have their own cross to bear but are carrying on regardless. This might sound as if the show is dreary and, in fact, someone remarked at interval that she hoped the show would liven up a bit.

Make no mistake, there is a lot of humour in the show – with John Didlick in it, how could there not be! However, we are talking John Lennon here. This was no stereotypical romantic lyricist but a man of deep convictions who spread his messages through his music and influenced millions of people, young and old. This is a good opportunity to be reminded of the contribution he made to the world of music. In the second half, the threesome’s lives move onto a more energetic plane and the songs gain momentum!

Individual highlights for me were Jealous Guy (Moore), Working Class Hero (Didlick) and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (Rowlands). Both Moore and Rowlands impressed in Mother. The accents tend to wander a bit across the north of England but the performances are warm and genuine.

Specific mention must be made of the guitarists who also handled vocals – Roland Fisher, Hans Dettman and Jason Andrew. The other members of this first-rate band are Tim Pullen (music director) on keyboards and Don Hastings on drums.

Gary McKenzie has taken a gamble with this one and I believe it has worked. The enthusiastic and non-orchestrated response at the final curtain proved that. I also believe that this show has strong potential and could be developed further. Lighting design is by Tina le Roux with sound design by Colin Peddie.

When Life Gives You Lennons runs at the Heritage Theatre in Hillcrest until July 10. There are two options here: R190 pp from Wednesdays to Saturdays at 19h00 (R165 pp Tuesday evenings and Sunday lunchtime shows at 12h30) which include a two-course meal or R100 for the show only.

The menu includes Butternut Soup, Spicy Chicken Livers and Caesar Salad. We all opted for the soup which was enjoyable although the plates could have been a lot warmer. I chose the Asian Beef Stir-Fry which I enjoyed and my companions opted for the Oven Baked Sole topped with a Dill Sauce but if this seasoning is too strong for you, rather choose the Thai Green Chicken Curry or the Melanzane Parmigiana (grilled aubergine layered with Napolitano sauce, mozzarella cheese and parmesan). The dessert menu – which is an optional extra - offers Heritage Tiramisu, Banana Split, Bread And Butter (pudding) and a Cheese Board.

Bookings can be made on 031 765 4197 or online at – Caroline Smart