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Saturday, December 14, 2019


  (Kaseran Pillay & Leeanda Reddy)

Bringing Durban Poison to the stage... (Review by Verne Rowin Munsamy)

This festive season at the Playhouse has unearthed some novice theatre gems along with some veteran, stalwart performances. With most of the theatres operating with a full festive line-up, audiences of all ages are spoilt for choice.

Joker Is Queen, which had two performances in the Playhouse Drama, featured two of Durban's most popular and influential Indian theatre and screen personalities, Leeanda Reddy and Kaseran Pillay. Both boast an array of accolades and shows under their belts, gaining fame on and off screen. This time the duo pair up to show off their theatre roots and passion for political satire and humour.

The situational comedy strikes a key note with Indian audiences as much of the humour is derived from Indian stereotypes, dialects and anecdotes. The show comprised 10 vignettes held together with projections and voice-overs and spans the entire history of Indian settlers in South Africa. Beginning with a quirky history of indentured slaves and ending with a typical Indian funeral, lost guests, over-the-top crying and all, with myriad references to local trends, politics and issues.

Reddy and Pillay emit great stage presence but I am always in awe of Leeanda Reddy who commands attention with her versatile characters and noticeable details embedded into the voice and body of every character she discovers. Both handle the multiple costume changes with ease to show us some off-beat characters that keep you entertained for the full two hours. They fill the space with several accents and dialects and have audiences eager to join in the fun. There is even reference to Reddy's departure from Isidingo.

The music choices are nostalgic and reminiscent of the 80s and 90s which suited the characters who could be placed in any suburb in Chatsworth or Phoenix. The first half is smooth and compact with edgy political bite while the second half lost some of the fiery impact of its counterpart. I felt that some scenes, especially the Palace interaction, was too drawn-out and took away from the themes of the show. My favourite characters were displayed by Reddy, the Coloured nurse who was delightfully astute and Terrific Eric.

That said, this show is bound to entertain all audiences. Catch it if it comes your way! - Verne Rowin Munsamy