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Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Michael Gritten in his best performance to date. (Review by Thomie Holtzhausen)

I had the privilege to see Paul Slabolepszy’s play Saturday Night at the Palace in the early 80’s with Paul Slab and Bill Flynn. When asked to review the current local production, I must admit I was sceptical as, in my mind, nobody can follow in the footsteps of the original cast.

The play tells the story of two whites back in the 80’s breaking down at the isolated Rocco’s All Nite Roadhouse late at night. The two phones available do not work. The black waiter working at the roadhouse is about to close and head for his homeland where his family is living, due to the then apartheid rule.

A typical setting-up of tension in dramas of the time, now somewhat clichéd in 2011. Nonetheless, the play made an impact then as it does now, not only because of the relevance thereof in the years of protest theatre, but because it is extremely well written.

However, it is Gritten that delivers one of his most amazing performances ever. He was simply brilliant, kept the show together and did it justice. He subtly takes the audience into his aggressive circumstances and develops a strong sense of understanding of the violent character he portrays. A tough act to follow.

Small’s role requires him to grow from a somewhat slow character to a strong one and in the last scenes he gave the character the focus it requires.

Bonginkosi Faca Kulu is better known as a musicals performer, having appeared to strong acclaim in overseas productions of the Lion King and, more recently, Stable Theatre’s Nkanyezi – The Star. Good to see him in a very different role.

Presented by Catalina Theatre in association with Catalina unLtd, Saturday Night at the Palace is also a Grade 10 drama setwork in the KZN schools. It is directed by Themi Venturas and runs until September 11. Bookings on 031 305 6889. – Thomie Holtzhausen