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LUNATIC, LOVER & POET (article first published : 2004-06-7)

Award-winning theatre company, the Actors Co-operative, is to present two performances only of its highly popular play The Lunatic, The Lover & The Poet. These will take place on June 14 and 15 in the beautiful outdoor setting of Durban’s romantic Manna Restaurant on Marriott Road, ideal for a cosy winter evening’s entertainment.

Starting at 18h00 for 18h30 each evening, diners will be treated to a special three course meal before settling down at their courtyard tables to enjoy a tantalizing montage of comedy and drama.

Using scenes from Shakespeare’s most well-loved plays, The Lunatic, The Lover & The Poet moves seamlessly from that most intense of all his tragedies, Hamlet, through to the immensely satisfying slapstick comedy of the Pyramus And Thisby scene from his eternally popular A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Along the way old theatre hams and novice Shakespeare audiences alike will be treated to the poetic beauty of the first tentative meeting of the young star-crossed lovers Romeo And Juliet and the wildly black comedy of the furious wooing of the older lovers, Kate and Petrucchio, in The Taming Of The Shrew.

Over the past three years, the Actors Co-operative has earned well-deserved respect as a presenter of Shakespeare’s works for over 50,000 young learners in KZN. With two productions each of Macbeth and Othello as well as one of Hamlet to its credit, the Co-op and its performers have been the recipients of a number of Vita Best Actor and Durban Theatre Awards. It has twice won the newly established Fools Award for its contribution to Youth Theatre and for Best Children’s Play.

Personally responsible for the direction of The Lunatic, The Lover & The Poet, Artistic Director of the Actors Co-operative, Garth Anderson, has been praised for his performances in Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet at the Playhouse, as well as in productions such as the Taiwanese tour of the Fantastic Flying Fish dance version of The Dream. Garth’s experience with Shakespeare has been enforced by years of work of productions such as Julius Caesar, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night and Romeo And Juliet for the American International School in Maputo.

Heading Lunatic’s cast of four is Oded Rouche, winner of the 2004 Fools Award for Best Actor, and Lucy Wallace who has just been seen as Desdemona in the Co-op’s Elizabeth Sneddon season of Othello. Also starring is Heather Barclay-Whiffen, well-known to South African audiences for her scintillating performances in the tongue-in-cheek end of year adult pantos Sinderella and Puss In Boots. The cast is completed by director Garth Anderson.

The Co-op will also tour the play to High Schools in and around KZN and Gauteng at the end of the second term of 2004. Aimed primarily at English and Drama learners in Grade 8 to Grade 11, The Lunatic, The Lover & The Poet explores Shakespeare’s lexis on “love and lovers” and is carefully designed to make his work accessible to young people. At the same time it is still a wildly entertaining piece of theatre which is enjoyed by all who see it. At one hour in length, The Lunatic, The Lover & The Poet can be followed by an informal discussion between the audience and the play’s director and cast.

Because of the flexibility of its structure, and its compact cast, special daytime performances of The Lunatic, The Lover & The Poet are presently being arranged at schools and community halls. High School learners pay the subsidized price of R25 with a minimum audience size of 100. Normal ticket price R60. Schools bookings for the month of June can be made by phoning the Actors Co-operative booking agents Margie and Nikki on 083 251 9412.

For details on the performances at Manna, contact Anna on 031 309 8581.




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