Well performed by a veteran entertainer, partly humour and partly rather distressing drama. (Review by Keith Millar)
Visiting Durban for the next week is Cape Town based actor David Muller. He will be at the Seabrooke’s Theatre at Durban High School doing what he does best – story-telling.
The last time Muller was on stage in Durban he adopted the persona of Herman Charles Bosman’s peerless story-teller, Oom Schalk Lourens.
This time he has brought something rather different.to the stage. An adaptation by himself and director Celia Musikanth of a memoir by Bruce Clark. The production is sub-titled Confessions of a Stay at Home Dad, which may give some clarity to the content of at least part of the story.
I have not read Bruce Clark’s book and therefore can only comment on the stage production, and that gave me the sense of being two completely different stories, which only occasionally had reference to each other.
Firstly, there was the stay at home older than normal, dad with his rather unconventional ideas of child-rearing, and his abiding love for his children and his wife. He is struggling as a new father, but making a good fist off it and, by and large, achieving his aim of raising children of responsibility and character.
The subject of child-rearing is a favourite amongst stand-up comedians and is always heart-warming and humorous and much enjoyed by audiences – particularly those who have children of their own.
Clark’s story of caring for his babies, as related by Muller, falls into the much the same category. Funny, cute, heartwarming and with plenty of “aaah” moments.
Then there is the harrowing, disturbing story of Clark’s upbringing of neglect, religious fanaticism, violence and poverty.
He was reared mostly by a grandmother after the divorce of his parents and his mother’s increasing involvement in Scientology. He loved his grandmother but they lived in difficult financial circumstances and his life was also influenced by seemingly no end of violent, crooked and lascivious relations.
He ended up living on the streets and stealing to stay alive. It was only when he met his beloved wife that he was able to turn his life around, get married and, quite late in life, end up as a stay at home dad.
One imagines that the links between the stories are in the life lessons he learnt which now make him a determined, happy and successful father and husband. This isn’t all that apparent in the telling of the stories, though.
David Muller is an experienced story teller and does a good job relating the trials and tribulations, joys and triumphs of Clark’s life. He is good-natured, tongue-in-cheek and somewhat cynical when relating the story of his wife and children. Not unlike his jolly Oom Schalk delivery.
However, when he delves into Clark’s past he displays real bitterness, horror and disgust. It is an emotional and quite moving performance. At times I caught myself thinking that I was listening to Muller’s own story.
The set, consisting of children’s toys and drawings, and an amazing Lego bridge, is very effective. However, the rather strange and random use of lights should be looked at.
Love Sex Fleas God is a new production. It only enjoyed its premiere in August this year, and last night was the first showing at the Seabrooke’s. I am sure it is only going to get better and stronger as it develops in performance.
As for the rather strange title? Well - Love is for his children, Sex for his wife, Fleas for the dog who is his only companion when he is at home caring for babies, and God is for his mother’s obsession with Scientology (they seem to regard Ron L Hubbard as God like).
This is a difficult production to categorise. It is well performed by a veteran entertainer, is partly humour and partly rather distressing drama.
Love Sex Fleas God (Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Father) runs until September 24 at 19h00 at Seabrooke’s Theatre on the Durban High School campus in St Thomas’ Road, Berea. Tickets R100 (R70 students and pensioners). Bulk booking special reserve 10 only pay for 8. Bookings are through Ailsa Windsor of Going Places on 031 201 2831 or 083 250 2690, or email email@example.com – Keith Millar