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Wednesday, November 2, 2011


A justly acclaimed one-hander. (Review by Adi Paxton)

I was fortunate to catch a performance of Prodigal at the inaugural I ♥ Durban Theatre Festival at UKZN, Howard College Drama campus which ran in the Studio 5 Theatre from October 28 to 30.

Tim Redpath stars in this piece created by Dani Marais and Lorraine Knox. After a shameful incident and disagreement, an Eastern Cape Farm boy leaves school and home to seek, and lose, his fortune in a corrupt fast-paced Johannesburg.

Redpath uses deft physical characterisation and is aided by insightful clever dialogue to create a memorable cross section of characters. We meet a doddering professor, a wonderful Xhosa Gogo and his naive loving father who truly cannot understand the modern city and its dark side. A Middle-Eastern restaurateur, shady gangster, shallow girlfriend and many others are swiftly and skilfully depicted.

This is a modern tale told with great skill, careful direction and excellent physical acting. Certainly Prodigal deserves all the acclaim that has been heaped on it.

The I ♥ Durban Theatre Festival is to be applauded for making work of this quality available to Durban audiences, along with a number of new works by well-known Durban performers. There was certainly a pleasant ambiance in the Open Air theatre where fairy nights in the trees enhanced the atmosphere and caterers Caviar & Cucumber provided a bar and a good selection of food for festival patrons.

Janna Ramos-Violante and local entrepreneur, Lauren Wallet together with Kickstart are to be commended for their brave but all-too-brief new venture. They had signposted the venues clearly and decorated the trees in the department with bunting to create a festive atmosphere. – Adi Paxton