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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

HILTON ARTS FESTIVAL: LOVE AT FIRST FIGHT



(Ash Searle & Vanessa Harris)

Quintessential examination is hilarious, cheeky, sometimes naughty, but never offensive. (Review by Keith Millar)

Love at First Fight, which was seen at the Hilton Arts Festival last weekend, bills itself as a “Romantic Dance Comedy”. It certainly is all that. It is tummy-achingly funny, the dance is superbly athletic and creative, and it contains plenty of heart-warming romance.

It could also easily be billed as “The Battle of the Sexes” or “Women Are from Venus and Men Are from Mars”. Or, for that matter, any of the other clich├ęs which are used to highlight the differences, and similarities, between males and females. The production is the quintessential examination of this subject and it is hilarious, cheeky, sometimes naughty, but never offensive.

Love At First Fight is created by Follow Spot Productions, the same team which is responsible for the Big Boys series. As a result, it obviously bears the same stamp. This time, however, Ash Searle is joined by his wife in real life, the bubbly, vivacious and rather sexy Vanessa Harris.

There is no sign of Brad in the story and the only appearance he makes is via a voice heard on a cellphone. Even then he is able to mess things up and cause chaos.

In the story, the couple are about to celebrate the anniversary of their first date and Ash thinks it would a good time to propose marriage to Vanessa. He plans a rather unique and different date in keeping with the fashion of unusual marriage proposals. He asks his brother Brad to organise fireworks and peace Doves which will fly in a heart formation. Bad Mistake. Brad lets off the fireworks at the wrong time and the Doves are replaced by a bunch of Hadedas.

During the course of the show many of the classic areas of contention between couples are looked at. All with tongue firmly in cheek. For example, she asks while getting dressed “Do you think my Bum looks big in this?” They argue about the venue of their first date. He tries to explain the rules of rugby to her. She criticises his bathroom habits (her dance called the Toothbrush Tango to the music of Chicago’s Cell Block Tango is hilarious).

And, like all good rom-coms this one, too, has a happy ending.

Searle and Harris are an excellent team. They show wonderful synergy and understanding in their performances. Both are outstanding dancers and they deliver superb high octane dance acrobatics. They are also fine comics and they squeeze every laugh out of the dialogue.

This is a show not to be missed if ever you have the opportunity. As I have said before about Big Boys, maybe some clever promoter will bring this show to Durban so that we may also enjoy these entertainment gems. – Keith Millar

For more information on the annual Hilton Arts Festival visit https://www.hiltonfestival.co.za