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Monday, October 6, 2014


(Shona Johnson & Khanyisani Kheswa with the Strongomometer! Pic by Val Adamson)

A delicious romp for young and old! (Review by Caroline Smart)
Today marked the launch of Catalina’s inaugural Durban Children’s Festival which will run for the rest of this week at the Catalina Theatre at Wilson’s Wharf. It offers five productions in a week-long feast of entertainment for young theatre-goers.

The Fantastical Flea Circus is written by Clinton Marius and features Shona Johnson and Khanyisani Kheswa.

The show was first staged in 2011 at the Catalina Theatre, featuring former Durban performers now living in Johannesburg, Shika Budhoo and Dhaveshan Govender. It won all awards in the Children’s Category at that year’s Mercury Durban Theatre Awards.

I have watched this project grow from its initial stages when Marius approached my husband for his advice on the numerous props required – and they are indeed challenging. They range from a hire wire to a cannon, a trapeze and a strongomometer (see pic) to a high diving board and its attendant pool. The least complicated prop is a simple nest in which the fleas live.

The fleas all have individual names – Fleanne, Flearoy, Fleadini, Bruce Flea and Justin Fleaber – and there is much use of the word “flea” in the dialogue. One two flea ... duty-flea ... a medflea of songs ... easy fleasy ... you get the picture?

Shona Johnson is delicious as the spunky and opinionated famous opera singer, Duchess De Nunu, who needs little encouragement to burst into song. An award-winning and experienced actress, she shines in this role. In his first main role, Khanyisani Kheswa shows strong promise as the Professor of Fleaology. It’s no easy task to make a major acting debut to a capacity audience of lively and highly interactive young people ... and interact they certainly do.

Part of the delight of this fun show is watching the reaction on the children’s faces as they gaze in amazement at the antics of the fleas. While the fleas are obviously invisible, the youngsters soon catch on and engage their imagination. Shrieks of delighted laughter greet the humour and stunned wide eyes follow the progress as the fleas do their circus tricks. There is no lack of response when volunteers are asked to assist.

The response from the adults was just as positive ... although a little more restrained! Don’t miss this delicious romp. If you don’t have children yourself,  take someone else’s!

Further performance times of The Fantastical Flea Circus take place on October 7 at 14h00, October 8 at 16h00, October 9 at 12h00, October 10 at 10h00 and October 11 at 12h00. Pre-booked tickets at R60 available through Computicket at 0861915800 or online at - Caroline Smart

For the full festival programme, visit