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

CRAZY FOR LOVING YOU (article first published : 2004-12-12)

The introduction of Garth Anderson’s dramatic piece, Crazy for Loving You, onto the circuit of productions completes the all-embracing nature of what Durban theatre can offer this festive season. For the first time for a long while, audiences have a full choice of music, dance, drama and children’s theatre. This also creates the agreeable situation where most of Durban’s theatrical talent is currently employed.

As Garth wryly puts it in his programme notes: “while this is the time when most people have started to take it easy after a hard year’s work … we old die-hard theatre war-horses are beginning to take on more work!”

Including the welcome return of the Playhouse complex, virtually all the theatre venues are at full tilt, some of them carrying two productions. Garth is no different but in his case, he has been careful to ensure that neither show compromises the other - The All New Summer Holidays Adventures of Brer Rabbit and Friends plays to an empty stage with an attractive backcloth and Crazy for Loving You has a variety of sets and props.

The production came from an original idea by former Durban actor Clive Rodel adapted from short stories by Anton Chekhov. If the idea of the influence of a classic Russian playwright daunts you somewhat, never fear. The three stories have comfortably morphed into the South African idiom (performed in English) and are titled Misfortune, The Grasshopper and Die Engel.

I was extremely impressed with Lucy Wallace’s performance in Garth’s Hello and Goodbye earlier this year and this production shows her growing further in stature as an actress. With her ultra-slim figure she looks as if a puff of wind would waft her away but that distinctive gravely voice has surprising power and she has a good flair for comedy. She is the pivotal figure of all three stories. First it’s the flighty arts lover determined to experience everything in life, then there’s Marta who discovers the power of her sexuality followed by Susannah who becomes a clone of whatever male personality happens to be dominating her life.

I never thought I would suggest that any actor tone down his vocal projection ever so slightly but Chris Marcellin has an extremely – and utterly welcome – strong voice as well as excellent articulation. As regular readers of my reviews will appreciate, I was in transports of delight. His is a vigorous performance whether as an Actor (very opinionated, hence the capital A), a security guard or a young boy.

Oded Rouche, already working hard in the Brer Rabbit show, makes up the cast of three and was suitably long-suffering, ardent and strong-silent type in his roles. He is, however, in danger of becoming too entrenched in certain vocal and body patterns which he needs to correct before they hamper his versatility.

Crazy for Loving You is full of humour and larger than life characters. Risqué and endearing at the same time, it runs at the Courtyard Theatre in Mansfield Road until December 24. Shows are Mondays to Saturdays at 20h00. Bookings through the Actors Co-operative on 031 462 0566 or 083 439 1532. – Caroline Smart




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