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RUSH-IN RU-LET (article first published : 2005-01-29)

Unfortunately, I only just got back from a month’s break in time to catch one of the last performances of Rush-in Ru-Let, which is the latest show staged by the aspirant young performers in the Catalina Youth Mentorship programme.

This ongoing development programme runs 16 week training modules exposing successful young auditionees to all aspects of the professional performing arts. Assisted by funding from the Royal Netherlands Embassy, it has been in place for two years and has resulted in productions such as Wherz it @ and Dahlings. Rush-in Ru-Let is the result of the last module which was specifically designed for creative writing where students were mentored by a variety of Durban writers and theatre specialists.

It’s a scenario that would make an good television series. Graduate film student Robbie, aided and abetted by his Gaffer – credible performances from Robbie Collins and Grant Jacobs – decides to enter a film competition with a video which depicts clips from the lives of the people who live in his Point Road block of flats.

The tenants are many and varied. There’s the drug dealer Paul – Matthew Venturas, showing his ability to handle a dramatic scene - who is a strong influence on the vulnerable GT (Brett Kyd) and his sidekick Stevie (Mark Evans). Passionately concerned about creating a soup kitchen for street children is the landlady, Lizzie (Caroline Walker) whose visits to collect the rent are not always welcomed with open arms. Nozipho (Mbali Bhengu) battles to get her housework done despite the volatile Zama (Pelisa Mtsala) and Zee (Leveen Kyd) who’s a wannabee Rasta.

Long-suffering cookery book writer, Tash (Hash Moti) has to put up with the slovenly habits of her sister Ashneem (Kamini Govender) and things go from bad to worse when her cousin Ria (Darshana Moti) arrives to teach them the dance she wants them to perform at her wedding, in between flashing her giant engagement ring at them. We’ve seen Meryl Collins before in several of the mentorship productions and she grows in stature with each one. As Beverley in Rush-in Ru-Let, she has a dysfunctional relationship with Shane (nicely underplayed by Bradley Marshall).

Making up this rather chaotic mix of tenants are Michelle (Aimee Vogelsang) who coped with a difficult “stoned” scene very well and her flatmate Joanne (Tammy Wilson). The last character to be introduced is Lizzie’s flatmate Tayne (Roxy Nel).

While director Dawn Harrison has pulled consistent and credible performances from every member of her cast, particular mention must be made of Matthew Venturas, Grant Jacobs, Mbali Bhengu, Caroline Walker and Darshana Moti. Pelisa Mtsala’s performance in an-all-too-short dance sequence was stunning and if Roxy Nel indeed learnt her American accent, all kudos is due to her for producing a believable and natural US twang and I was extremely impressed at her handling of an emotionally charged scene.

Rush-in Ru-Let runs at Catalina Theatre in Wilson’s Wharf until January 30. It’s well worth a visit if you want to see the budding talent that the city has to offer, much of which has the potential to continue through to the professional level. Shows at 19h30 and tickets are R25 (R15 concessions). Book at 031-305 6889. – Caroline Smart




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