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BUMS AND ROSES (article first published : 2005-02-5)

Don’t be put off by the title. Bums and Roses, which has just opened at Catalina, is not a raunchy cabaret or a spicy sex show but rather a highly entertaining musical comedy offering the best performances to date by Arnie Field and Hamish Kyd.

In a delightfully amusing script written by Themi Venturas – with additional material from Arnie Field and Hamish Kyd plus a sketch from Peter Cook – the first word of the title refers to a “bio-diversified unemployed migrant soul”, as one of the characters proudly describes himself.

In fact they are both beach bums, hanging out on Durban’s balmy shoreline. The format of the dream sequence that makes up the show allows them to wander down memory lane and sing some great songs. Two lithe and charming dancers keep popping up to tantalise them and they end up thinking that life isn’t so bad after all - in fact, a licence should be required to have such fun. This formed the intro to a hilarious and very clever sketch in which Styles applies for a licence to walk in the street.

I enjoyed numbers such as When a Man Loves a Woman, What a Wonderful World, I Write the Songs and Circle of Love. While certain numbers were not suited for Arnie’s voice, he carried them off with panache. Hamish was most amusing in a parody of I Will Survive.

It was a bitter-sweet experience watching the show. As the homespun philosopher, Kevin, Arnie Field is at his most engaging in terms of movement and song. It is sad that he is shortly to emigrate to the UK because I believe he has reached a new and exciting level of maturity in his career.

With his capacity to endear himself to an audience with his hangdog expressions, sidelong glances and roguish smile, Hamish is a good foil for Arnie as Styles. Directed by Themi Venturas, the show was written specifically for the pair of them and it’s a successful match.

Amid the hoboes’ down-and-out clothing and rundown surroundings, Deanne Mackintosh and Leanne Van Zyl (as the “Roses” of the title) provide glitz and glamour in a series of attractive costumes designed by Jannie Engelbrecht. However, the choreography was much too repetitive and the opening number would have benefited by involving the two hoboes earlier.

The sound was way too loud at times and there are some ineffective lighting cues which leave one or the other of the actors in the darkness.

Bums and Roses will play at the Catalina Theatre until February 20 with shows Tuesday to Saturday at 20h00 (Sundays at 18h00). Tuesdays and Sundays there will be Buy One Get One Free Specials. It’s a good evening’s entertainment.

On February 13 there will be a special Valentines Day performance which will include the show and a romantic cruise around Durban harbour.

Tickets R60 each and pensioner and student discounts apply. To book call Thandeka on 031 305 6889. For block booking discounts and charity fundraisers call Glenda on 031 3057612. – Caroline Smart




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