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Saturday, May 26, 2018


(Jaques de Silva & Ameera Patel. Pic by Val Adamson)

A brilliant piece of physical theatre – clever, witty and beautifully performed. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Running as part of the Playhouse Company’s current New Stages Festival, Whistle Stop is running over this weekend in the Playhouse Loft.

There are three characters in this story – a man, a woman and a park bench. The bench becomes a character in its own right through the skilful way in which it is handled, creating different scenarios.

This is a brilliant piece of physical theatre – clever, witty and beautifully performed by real-life couple, Ameera Patel and Jaques de Silva, under the excellent and sensitive direction of Frances Slabolepszy.

Conceived as a tribute to the work of the legendary British playwright and actor Steven Berkoff, the production won a Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in 2014. Patel, who wrote the script, received a special writers’ award and deservedly so.

The stage is utterly bare apart from the lone white bench in the spotlight. A young woman (Patel) strolls in, sits down and starts reading the Garden and Home magazine and whistling while she reads. A young man (de Silva) wanders in and moves around. Both of them are acutely aware of the other, and take the time to size each other up.

What follows is a highly amusing process as we hear their speech to each other but also what they are thinking. He hates whistling – finds it ”incomprehensible”. She calls him beady-eyed and like a pecking chicken. She is more than derogatory about him while he finds her acutely attractive … apart from the whistling, that is!

But slowly, their thoughts turn to a determination to make contact – words tumble over each other, as do their movements – and here is where the bench is a pivotal part of the show. They are over it, under it, standing it upright, leaning, sliding, perching, slithering or stretching on or around it – beautiful seamless movements that reflected their thoughts and words.

There are ridiculous comments in their journey of discovering each other. They say things they shouldn’t, then frantically retract. They descend into arguments but a chance touch sends them both into transports of delight. He remains stoic in his pursuit of her and his description of the ladder in her stocking is hugely funny. She is fascinated by his Adams Apple. Another utterly hilarious scene involves her discarding her bubble gum which he wants to preserve for his planned posterity with her.

There are only three more performances of Whistle Stop in the Loft – today (May 26) at 15h00 and 19h30 and tomorrow (May 27) at 15h00. Tickets R100 – R150 booked through Computicket on 0861 915 8000, online at, or call 031 369 9540.

This is physical theatre at its best. Catch it if you can – Caroline Smart