national Arts Festival Banner

Saturday, June 15, 2019


(Pic by Val Adamson)

Yet another triumph for KickstArt. (Review by Keith Millar)

Creativity, inventiveness, pure enjoyment and distinctive magic are the hallmarks of most children’s productions put on by Durban’s award winning KickstArt production company. And their latest offering, Charlotte’s Web, has all these qualities by the bucketful.

Joseph Robinette’s very clever adaptation of E B White’s beautiful children’s novel about the friendship between a farmyard pig and a barn spider is brought to life on the stage of the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre in the most enchanting and endearing way by the designer and director of the production, Greg King.

The story is about Wilbur the pig who was the runt of his litter and was raised by the farmer’s daughter Fern. But the pig is now grown up and healthy and the time has come for him to be slaughtered and turned into bacon and sausages. Wilbur’s great friend, Charlotte, the barn spider, with the help of the other farm animals hatch a plot to save Wilbur’s life. She writes words with her web to show everyone what a wonderful pig Wilbur is.

King has assembled a fabulous cast of wonderfully talented actors to tell this story. And what a hard-working bunch they are in this production. Most of them have to play multiple characters and they rush about, portraying people one moment and being puppeteers the next.

(Right: Mthokozisi Zulu & Belinda Henwood as Wilbur the pig and Charlotte the barn spider. Pic by Val Adamson)

Charlotte is played by Belinda Henwood. A lovely performance. How anyone can make a creepy creature such as a spider entrancing and lovable is beyond me. But she did it!

Mthokozisi Zulu is excellent in his physical portrayal of the charming but rather vulnerable Wilbur the pig.

One of my favourite actors Bryan Hiles is very funny as Avery, Fern’s Brother, but for me is a stand-out as the voice and puppeteer of Templeton the rat.

Lyle Buxton plays several characters and all very well. But particularly shines as the voice and puppeteer of the farmyard gander and as a hilarious Donald Trump figure.

The energetic and charming Fern is played by Cara Roberts. She is also puppeteer for Gussy the mama goose.

(Left: Tebogo T-Bone Hlahane as Farmer Zuckerman. Pic by Val Adamson)

Teboho T-Bone Hlahane impresses as the narrator, Farmer Zuckerman and the Old Sheep puppet.

Erina Rautenbach and Stephanie Jenkins are very busy farmhands and puppeteers, throughout the production.

I feel that the many wonderful puppets in this show should be added to the cast list. Created by Wendy Henstock, they are not only innovative but have distinct characters of their own. They play a huge role in the endearing charm of the production.

Lighting is by Tina Le Roux, musical direction by Jason Bird, sound by Ros van Wyk while the excellent costumes were created by Shanthi Naidoo.

An experienced and supremely talented team who all leave their mark on this fabulous show.

There are plenty of opportunities for the audience to participate during the show and this certainly had all the young ones in the audience out of their seats exercising their vocal chords with great excitement.

Landon, my seven year old co-reviewer stated that the production was happy, but then got sad (he even shed a tear or two) but in the end was happy again. His favourite moment was when the farmer accidentally tossed a bucket of water over the audience.

Two of the words Charlotte wrote in her web to describe Wilbur were “Terrific” and “Radiant”. A very apt description of this production of Charlotte’s Web as well. Yet another triumph for KickstArt. Don’t miss it!

Charlotte’s Web runs at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre until July 7, 2019. Tickets R180, R160 and R120 (R160/R130/R100 children, students and pensioners. R120 schools performances). Tickets booked through Computicket /

For school and charity performances, contact KickstArt at – Keith Millar