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Monday, November 25, 2013


(Yugan Naidoo, Satchu Annamalai and Warrick Frank)

An experience not to be missed! (Review by John Harley)

First performed in 1974, Stablexpense makes a biting comment of the fact that the Durban Municipality of the time allocated more money to the building of a stable for a horse than it did to one of the new low-cost houses for Indians in Chatsworth after their eviction from areas rezoned for whites only.

The plot is not as simple as all that, though. It explores a wide range of racial issues prominent in the time in a very effective, subtle and sometimes deeply covert manner, highlighting this frightening period of our South African history even more.

Co-directed by Caroline Smart and Jayashree Govender (Kessie Govender’s widow), Stable Theatre’s production is presented in a simple, unpretentious way, allowing the plot to unfold almost gently, yet leading to a most dramatic climax.

The performances are most convincing, with Vadi (Satchu Annamalai) and Marnie (Yugan Naidoo) as the central characters, leading the way with utmost energy and verve. The rest of the cast includes Naren Sunker, Warrick Frank and Samantha Govender.

I do have a few reservations regarding slight language barriers that made me miss several vital (I think) dramatic moments. The dialect, accents and colloquialisms did at times leave me rather stranded. Several times the (mostly Indian) audience would burst into laughter and I just could not catch on.

The staging was careful and for the most effective; yet I felt at times it was a bit too careful ("tight") and inhibited the flow towards the final moments of the play!

Careful, too, of linear/flat staging - use the depth of the stage more. Balance is also important. For the most, only the one side of the stage was used which tends to constrict dynamic, three-dimensional floor patterns that create interest for the audience.

I enjoyed the story-telling format of the play a lot and I think the production works well - most relevant theatre; or, as Peter Brook would say, 'most immediate'!

The programme is also really fabulous, beautifully printed with a great deal of background information on the context of the play and its author Kessie Govender.

All in all an experience not to be missed!

Stablexpense has been funded by the National Arts Council with support funding from the KZN Performing Arts Trust and runs at Stable Theatre at 115 Johannes Nkosi Street until November 30. Tickets R50 (R40 pensioners/students/scholars) booked through Computicket. For block bookings (R40pp for more than 10) contact Stable Theatre on 031 309 2513 or email or – John Harley