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Wednesday, September 21, 2011


(Annelisa Weiland and Vanessa Cooke)

Presented at the 2011 Witness Hilton Arts Festival, The Slap Koejawel turned out to be one of my favourite productions. (Review by Caroline Smart)

What an delight to watch two such consummate actresses as Annelisa Weiland and Vanessa Cooke, deftly directed by Robert Whitehead, meander their dotty way through this endearing story of two actresses preparing for an opening night. They’re performing in a new drama which has some major problems so there are last-minute alterations. The actresses are still going through the director’s pithy notes and frantically trying to remember new lines and rehearse sections where they have problems. One of them is trying to experiment with her death scene.

There are some very clever and funny lines but as the action moves in and out between the real and the play script, you need to keep focused to work out which is which!

As the countdown calls to curtain up come through on the tannoy, they frantically get dressed, put on stage make-up, argue, complain, despair and laugh – at themselves, each other and the world in general.

The Slap Koejawel morphed out of sketches that Annelisa and Vanessa started writing about 20 years ago, while working together at The Market Theatre. Their characters were two very old ladies – Mavis and Violet – and the sketches were inspired by newspaper sensations of the time. Two years ago, Robert Whitehead encouraged them to revisit these sketches and develop them. He then structured them into this play which, despite its title, is in English. Don’t miss it, if it comes to a theatre near you! – Caroline Smart