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Sunday, February 9, 2014


(Chanel Meager & Arno Wagenaar)

Heartwarming scenario links to Catalina Theatre origins. (Review by Caroline Smart)

The Catalina Theatre at Wilson’s Wharf takes its name from the twin-engined Catalina flying boats of the Royal Air Force’s 262 Squadron which operated in Durban harbour during the Second World War. The theatre is situated at the position of the original control tower.

Sandy Bigara’s latest play, Just Yours, is based on a true love story and is set in 1943 and takes in four locations: the cabaret lounge of the former Marine Hotel; a living room in the hotel; the military canteen, and a street area. This is a challenge even for Catalina’s wide stage and sometimes one area tends to blur into another.

The story focuses on Ada, a young visitor to Durban. While looking for work, she stays with her fiery aunt who is the assistant and lounge singer at the Marine Hotel, a real establishment which was then situated on the Victoria Embankment. She encounters two young servicemen – Danny and Barney - and their initial prankish behaviour repels her.

Danny seeks her out later and she finds he’s not as bad as his mate! All too soon, he receives the information that he is deployed to the 262 Squadron RAF in St Lucia, to fly surveillance missions in the Catalinas. However, this is wartime and relationships are fragile. Tomorrow may never come and the war has already taken its toll on human life. The death of a loved one can cause the bereaved to be jealous of those falling in love, leading to ill-advised actions.

Chanel Meager is charming as Ada with Arno Wagenaar an endearing Danny. Bigara brings much pathos to the role of the aunt and much of the humour comes from Christiaan du Plessis who plays the irrepressible Barney and a toffee-nosed chef!

The show includes well-known golden oldies some of which are sung by Bigara and there are scenes where Ada and Daniel dance together. Bigara’s aim to show that dance is what brings the two together but this is not sufficiently explored.

I attended one of the earlier performances which was beset with technical problems. There were also some glaring period inaccuracies with props and costumes. However, I understand that these have now been dealt with.

Bigara is committed to her craft and constantly hones her work for better effect. I think this production is worthy of further development. For now, it’s an engaging evening’s entertainment with a heartwarming scenario that links to the origins of Catalina Theatre.

Just Yours runs until February 22 from Thursdays to Saturdays at 19h00 with an extra matinee on February 22 at 14h00. Tickets R100 show only but there is an optional extra of a show and dinner package at R160. The meal takes place at John Dory's and is available pre-show on Thursdays, and before and after the shows on Friday and Saturday. John Dory's is in the Wilson’s Wharf complex (Entrance #2) off the Victoria Embankment. Booking is through Computicket. - or call Sinazo at Catalina Theatre on 031 837 5999. – Caroline Smart