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THE ALL NEW SUMMER HOLIDAYS ADVENTURES OF BRER RABBIT AND FRIENDS (article first published : 2004-12-7)

The All New Summer Holidays Adventures of Brer Rabbit and Friends must be nearly the longest play title in the world – and a nightmare to fit on any poster!

This delightful show for children aged 12 and under - grown up people will enjoy it, too! – is directed by award-winning Garth Anderson and produced by The Actors Co-Operative.

It had its beginnings three years ago at Kwasuka Theatre when it was titled Izinganegwane Story Theatre. However, the theatre-going public of the time either couldn’t pronounce the title or remember it and the response was far short of the show’s potential. With a name change to Brer Rabbit in Africa, the tales of the mischievous rabbit bounced back successfully last year and the third – and longest – title in the series is currently running at the Courtyard Theatre over the festive season.

The colourful costumes look as good as they did three years ago and the three new stories are just as delightful as their predecessors. Rowan Bartlett gives a delicious cameo appearance as the cow, but I do miss her as a main character! Garth has a flair for entertaining youngsters and he has infused some hilarious lines and extracted much infectious energy from his cast.

We see Mpume Mthombeni repeating her lively role of the mischievous Nokwaja (Brer Rabbit) in a variety of escapades which include stealing chakalaka and a pair of sandals from smooth-talking Brer Cane Rat, Gundane, nicely played by Blessing Mbonambi (an actor to watch!). She also delights in playing tricks on a ferocious man-eating lion, Mbube, played with much vigour by Rowan Bartlett. Her favourite pastime is running rings around Oded Rouche who takes the part of the not-entirely bright Brer Baboon, and the story of how the baboon got his blue bum was much enjoyed by the young audience. Making up the cast is engaging David Cowley who also provides much of the percussion backing.

The tales of Brer Rabbit’s adventures in Africa have been specially adapted from his madcap American cousin’s escapades. The storyteller is a puppet, Gogo Mkhize, and she is handled by whoever isn’t acting in the accompanying story. With four “handlers”, this is a move that could cause confusion but Garth pulls it off successfully.

Running over an hour in length, The All New Summer Holidays of Brer Rabbit and Friends runs until Christmas Eve. Performances weekdays at 11h00 and Saturdays at 14h00. Tickets R30 (R25 for children). For information or bookings phone 031 426 0566 or 083 439 1532. Safe, secure, guarded parking is available in the Durban Institute of Technology’s parking lot opposite the Courtyard Theatre.

A daily colouring-in competition is held at each performance, with prizes for the best entry. Flyers are available at The ArtStand at Essenwood Market on Saturday mornings or at most of the theatre venues. – Caroline Smart




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