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Thursday, April 4, 2013


(Marc Kay, Adam Doré and Clinton Small)

Madcap romp with an important message. (Review by Caroline Smart)

If you have attended any of the Witness Hilton Arts Festivals over the past few years, you will have come across the Actors Unemployed Company as they work the crowds in mediaeval gear, providing impromptu scenes from Shakespeare on request.

Marc Kay, Adam Doré and Clinton Small - who make up The Actors Unemployed Company (AUC) - decided that the theatre scene needed a major boost and it was time to “educate” audiences as to what theatre is all about.

In a madcap romp titled Guide to the Theatre!, which involves a fair amount of knockabout comedy and slapstick, they set about explaining to audiences “the proper manner in which to attend theatre, how to worship your actors, and be amazed at the range of entertainments you can enjoy at a theatre!”

Directed by Darren King, the production features a stage within a stage with a curtained structure that hides a multitude of props and changes of costumes. It also operates as a kind of Punch and Judy stage as well as puppet shadow play. As the show progresses, the audience is assessed as to whether it really understands theatre or not, so be prepared for audience involvement amid much humour!

Clinton Small is the character with the shortest fuse – refusing to go with ideas he believes are a waste of time. His interpretation of Grizabella (from Cats) is extremely funny.

Adam Doré is introduced as the academically-minded articulate member, all tweed jacket and spectacles, and was an absolute delight in the Swan Lake section which was a highlight of the show.

Marc Kay is the all-embracing peacemaker between the other two volatile characters. He also sings – when he’s allowed to! – and the Nessun Dorma scene is hilarious.

There is a whistle-stop tour about how theatre was born, from the Greeks and the Romans, belting at top speed through Chekov, Marx Brothers (about 20 seconds), Noises Off (all three acts in about six minutes) not to mention Waiting for Godot being produced as a pantomime! The second half of the show concentrates on musicals and covers My Fair Lady, Wizard of Oz, Jungle Book, Cats, Guys and Dolls, Phantom of the Opera, West Side Story and The Lion King, including a few brief seconds from Titanic.

All kudos to Gemma Schumann on a hectic sound cue schedule and Tina le Roux on the lights!

While on the surface, this is a lot of fooling-around fun and nonsense, the show does carry an important message. So, if the production does nothing more than give the uninitiated a glimpse of what working in the performing arts is all about, it has my full support!

Guide to the Theatre! runs until April 7 nightly at 19h30 at Seabrooke’s Theatre with matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 15h00.  Tickets R80 booked through Ailsa on 083 250 2690. A neat makeshift bar has been created in the foyer as DHS is currently on holiday and the normal tuckshop-bar is not open. Please support this as it assists the Actors Unemployed Company income! – Caroline Smart