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Sunday, September 14, 2014


Lively and colourful production at newly-renovated Courtyard Theatre. (Review by Keith Millar)

Same Differences is a lively and colourful production performed by a cast of 35 second and third year drama students from The Durban University of Technology.

Written and directed by lecturer Angela Harvey, this dance/musical examines cultural differences and similarities by introducing three different coloured tribes. The bright yellows are fun loving, creative and gentle people while the bright reds have a more serious and earthy approach to live. The rather sinister greens are the people of the underworld who aspire to take over the world.

There are also various nutty scientists and gangsters whose presence is woven into the story.

According to ancient lore, the tribes do not mix. But when a friendship is struck between a young yellow girl and a young red boy – a touch of Romeo and Juliet here - all kinds of mayhem follow.

The dance sequences are very well executed. They vary from a bit of classical ballet to a hybrid of American Indian and African traditional dance. I even think I spotted a bit of the All Black rugby, or Maori, Hakka in the mix. The music, much of original songs written by Angela Harvey, is pleasant and fits in well with the action.

As is usual with student productions, one cannot fault the youthful exuberance and enthusiasm brought to the stage. They seem to derive real delight and satisfaction from having the opportunity to perform in front of an audience. This is a talented group of performers who make the most of the material they have to work with.

While Same Differences serves its purpose of allowing such a large group of students to be given the opportunity to perform, I would like to see what they could do with one of the more well-known musicals. This work is rather convoluted, a touch indulgent and, at two and half hours, a bit too long.

However, as this was the premiere of this work, I am sure Angela Harvey will regard it as a work in progress and tighten up the script and the direction for any future staging.

One of the additions to the renovated Courtyard Theatre is a very good JBL sound system. It is a pity, however, that the music mix for this production is as rough and ready as it is. Music tracks are regularly cut off, rather than faded out, at the end of sequences and the volumes often drowned out the performers on stage.

Elements such as these are so important to the overall quality of a production and in this case, along with the new sound system, would help lift the offering to the next level.

The Courtyard Theatre is looking bright and cheerful after the recent renovation and sprucing up. It is a very pleasant and welcoming venue to visit and see the future of our performing arts being developed. However, I would still like to see them offer refreshments for sale before the show and at interval.

Same Differences runs at the Courtyard Theatre at the Durban University of Technology’s Steve Biko campus until September 18. Performances are at 19h00. Tickets R40 are available at the door or by contacting the Departmental Secretary on 031 373 2194 or via email at – Keith Millar