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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

GURU (article first published : 2004-03-4)

Following on his success with Uncut - The Penis Monologues, Durban actor/writer Clinton Marius has again demonstrated his versatility in this amusing swipe at a number of topical targets. They include the New Age movement, ageing hippies and a pre-occupation with somewhat dubious gurus.

The set is simple but effective, with white gauze curtains which Marius incorporates into his hilarious Three Wise Men act.

The actor is better “in character” than playing himself and it takes a little while for him to get into his stride. His rendition of the “sandal brigade” is closely observed and mostly very funny. In retrospect, this is not essentially a caricature. Which of us personally does not know a person in this category?

I liked the crack that it is now de rigeur in certain circles to adopt children of another race, even if it includes kidnapping the maid’s children. Another pertinent point was that some people in this set have turned “worrying into an art form”.

The interpretation of the “spaced-out” hippie was not quite so successful, with a fair amount of repetition. Marius did, however, get “under the skin” of a type that frequents music festivals such as Flux and Splashy Fen.

After many deliberate delays – with soothing reminders from an Indian woman announcer – Guru Sunshine is finally on his way and enters the stage.

He arrives in an extraordinary “state of the art” revolving contraption. With his freaked-out frizzy blue hair and appropriate robes, Sunshine appears to be a spiritual leader offering enlightenment and the “true path”. This guru soon proves himself to be an ingratiating charlatan, more interested in the sale of his books, CD’s and even “enlightenment ear buds” than in helping his gullible devotees.

The show is quite sophisticated and requires an audience that is fairly well informed on matters both spiritual and musical. Few in the younger general, for example, would be able to make the link between Gilbert and Sullivan’s I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General and I Am the Very Model of a Modern Esotericist.

Nevertheless, there are sufficient chuckles along the way to carry the production through its run of about 70 minutes (without interval).

Caroline Smart has directed with a sure and deft hand. It is gratifying to see theatre that is locally-generated on our local stages.

Guru runs until March 14 in the Playhouse Loft from Tuesday to Saturdays at 19h30 and Sundays at 18h30. Tickets R50. Book at Computicket or call Dial-A-Seat on 031 369 9444. – Patrick Leeman




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