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Thursday, October 1, 2015


UKZN students rise to the challenge of performing in different styles. (Review by Caroline Smart)

In 2007, Themi Venturas presented De Compleat Histry of Dbn (without the boring bits!) in 2007 at the Catalina Theatre. Written and directed by Venturas, it ran for six weeks with its cast of top professionals: Holly Boulind, Kajal Bagwandeen, Hamish Kyd, Mpume Mthombeni and Frank Graham with Daisy Spence and Mayuri Naidoo appearing as alternates.

Some eight years later, he has revived this production with the Department of Drama and Performance Studies of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. This must have posed a considerable challenge for Venturas because not only has the number of actors jumped from five to 14 but the students come from different levels, ie from first-year to honours.

The show also poses a major challenge to the cast because they are required to sing, dance and act in different styles, such as a scene played in full melodrama requiring the audience to hiss at the villain, cheer the hero and sigh for the maiden.

The cast includes Khwezi Becker; Chanté du Plessis; Emily Govender; Nemija Govender; Bathandwa Gumede; Ntokozo Khuzwayo; Thansanqa Mathonsi; Nokuthula Mthetwa; Londiwe Ngema; Camilla Rogers; Sibahle Sibisi; Jamy-Lee Simons; Sfundo Sosibo and Lauren Topp.

Musicians include Cuan Austin on guitar and Liyasakha Tyhoba on keyboard. The late Tixi Nxumalo, who passed away earlier this year, provided the musical accompaniment for the original production at the Catalina. This production is dedicated to him.

De Compleat Histry of Dbn (without the boring bits!) is based on the storytelling and comic techniques of the Reduced Shakespeare Company inspired by the style of The Compleat Wrks of Wlm Shkspr (Abridged). It offers a wild, tongue-in-cheek and often fantastical history of Durban which include events leading up to its naming as a city. For a start, we see Vasco da Gama setting out on a voyage to get away from his nagging wife and a persistent taxman! Huge chunks of history are glossed over (possibly considered the boring bits!) but the end product is highly amusing and energetic in true Venturas style. Unfortunately, some of the dialogue was lost through bad vocal projection.

Helping us keep a grasp of the passage of time is the screened display of Iain "Ewok" Robinson’s illustrations as well as fascinating pictures of early Durban.

While this is very much an ensemble piece, I was impressed by Chanté du Plessis, Londiwe Ngema; Khwezi Becker; Camilla Rogers and Jamy-Lee Simons as well as Sfundo Sosibo who is the show’s choreographer.

There was a schools presentation earlier in the day and many of these students attending were in the audience. They took much delight in the proceedings, particularly during the interactive melodrama sequence. A school's performance has been scheduled for October 2 at 11h00 and should appeal to those studying drama and history. Bookings via Claudette Wagner on 031 260 3134 or

De Compleat Histry of Dbn (without the boring bits!) runs at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre until October 3 nightly at 19h00 with matinees on October 3 and 4 at 14h00. Tickets R60 (R30 students, scholars and pensioners on presentation of relevant ID). Early booking is advised through Computicket outlets, telephonically on 0861 915 8000, or online at – Caroline Smart