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Saturday, July 29, 2017


(Maeshni Naicker. Pic by Val Adamson)

This is a hard production to recommend, but don’t ignore it. (Review by Keith Millar)

Salon Sue is the latest offering from the prolific and talented writer Clinton Marius. This comedy, which is also directed by Marius, is brought to the stage at Sibaya’s iZulu Theatre by the innovative Copy Dog production team.

Marius’s recent success include the award-winning B!*ch Stole My Doek, The Mystic Twisters and Sweetie Darling as well as the long-running radio serial Lollipop Lane.

He is a writer with a gentle touch and a wonderful sense of comedy. He has the ability to suss out the idiosyncrasies of cultural groups other than his own, and thereby to create the wonderful, lovable characters who are the basis of his one-hander comedies.

For Salon Sue, he has fashioned an eccentric, flamboyant and egotistical hairdresser, with a heart of gold, named Sue.

Sue is the owner of a small hair salon. During the course of the story we are introduced to Sue’s two employees, Zelda, who seems to have to wash everything from clients’ hair to the windows, and Felicity who never actually arrives at work and all conversations with her are via the telephone. We meet a variety of typical a hairdresser. There are also endless phone calls that are handled with little grace or patience by Sue. In fact, I found the constant phone ringing an irritation after a while.

Being a one-hander, all the characters are introduced via one-sided conversations Sue has with them. Therein lies a problem. In previous productions, Marius has the performer playing out all the roles. This keeps the action moving and allows plenty of opportunity for the actor to create a bit of personality for the characters. However, in Salon Sue, Sue has to pause for an imaginary answer to almost every line.

This slows up the action terribly and we never get any real sense of the character of the other person she is interacting with.

The role of Sue is played by Maeshni Naicker, a well-known actress on radio, theatre and film. She is recognised for her feisty performances and her unerring delivery of comedy lines.

Unfortunately, with this production she did not quite deliver the goods. I am not sure how much first night nerves can be blamed, but the odds were certainly against her. Firstly, because of the aforementioned problem with the staccato nature of the script as well as having to perform in a venue which is far from suitable for this type of intimate theatre.

The iZulu Theatre at Sibaya is a huge venue. It seats well over 1,000 people and is designed for big extravaganzas and music shows. It has a huge domed ceiling and is very grand and imposing.

Even though the area where action took place on the large stage was minimised with clever lighting, it must be impossible for a solo artist to connect with her audience in this environment. She also had to use a microphone and this exacerbated the loud, brash delivery that goes with the character Sue.

Towards the end of the story, there is a poignant scene where Sue (Naicker) interacts with her favourite customer. To say more would be a spoiler so suffice it to say that this is where Sue shows her Heart of Gold and where Naicker shows that she is capable of more as an actress.

This is a hard production to recommend, but don’t ignore it. The team that has put the production together are very professional and the odds are that they will fix many of the problems.

Salon Sue runs at the iZulu Theatre at Sibaya with performances tonight (July 29) at 20h00 and tomorrow (July 30) at 15h00. Tickets R120 booked through Computicket at branches of Shoprite Checkers, telephonically on 086 915 8000 or online at – Keith Millar