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Saturday, August 22, 2015


(Rahul Brijnath & Maeshni Naicker)

Strong performances create much laughter in Ronnie Govender's play at Sibaya. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Multi award-winning playwright Ronnie Govender has revived a production written in 1987 which is enjoying good audiences at the iZulu Theatre at Sibaya.

Taking its title from an Urdu saying: “If you haven’t got money, even your own dog won’t bite you,” Your Own Dog Won't Bite You is set in the living room of transport tycoon, Jimmy Jugmohan, who works from home in an upmarket house in Reservoir Hills.

Jimmy’s life is full of frustrations – a nagging wife and a disrespectful son who won’t attend to his studies – not to mention his truck drivers who don’t maintain their vehicles properly and end up stranded on the road.

As Jimmy, Rahul Brijnath shows a major growth in his performance ability since the days we worked together when I directed radio productions for Lotus FM. There is a new level of maturity and a strong grasp of comedy timing. He’s also quite an impressive mover in the all-too-short moments when he gets to dance.

As his nagging hypochondriac wife, Madhu, Maeshni Naicker delivers her usual solid performance with her sharp responses and laconic comments gathering most of the laughs. Madhu is full of complaints - some real, as in the worry over her son’s gambling, and the other imaginary as she finds new aches and pains to stress her.

Into the mix comes a lady who deals with the occult – a feisty and very good performance by Jayshree Parasuramen. She has been invited by Madhu to find out whether there are evil spirits present in the house. As Parasuramen sits cross-legged on the floor in front of her fire, making sudden squeaky noises or shouts, these scenes offer some of the funniest moments of the play.

Not believing a word of any of her predictions and considering her actions linked to witchcraft, Jimmy invites Madhu’s real doctor to attend the woman’s next visit. In his brief appearance, Yashik Singh handles his role with aplomb and even gets involved in a dancing sequence!

As her lounging, layabout son (Baboo), Warwick Frank gives a good interpretation of the young man who suddenly makes a fortune. Initially unwelcome as she is non-Indian, Lyschelle Linderboom handles the giggling nervous new girlfriend with ease, eventually playing her trump card which promptly changes Madhu’s mind as to her suitability as a daughter in law.

While the iZulu Theatre is a splendid venue – spacious with comfortable seating and good sightlines – it was not built for the human voice but rather for music and dance presentations. The actors were miked and audible, but this technology restricts the dynamic cut and thrust of the dialogue of a production like this. One also misses being able to see the facial nuances that you can appreciate in a more intimate theatre space.

Having said that, this did not worry the majority of the audience members who missed none of Govender’s distinctive humour and responded with delight to the very amusing dialogue and hilarious scenes.

Your Own Dog Won’t Bite You is running at Sibaya’s iZulu Theatre with two more performances:  tonight (August 22) at 20h00 and tomorrow (August 23) at 15h00. Tickets R120 at Computicket. – Caroline Smart
NB: Your Own Dog Won’t Bite You has a further season at Sibaya’s iZulu Theatre from September 24 to 27. Tickets R120 at Computicket