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IN LOVE ALL BY MYSELF (article first published : 2005-06-19)

Written and directed by Vivian Moodley, In Love All By Myself forms part of the Playhouse Company’s Hip Kulcha Festival, celebrating Youth Day. This new dramatic piece depicts two ladies of the night who are selling themselves on Durban’s Point Road. Despite the fact that they are competing with each other for the favours of passers-by, they have an interactive friendship. As one of them quips: “We’re sisters in arms …. men’s arms!” This exchange of dialogue is often amusing and occasionally highly graphic, which makes for an interesting hour-long play.

Also good to see new faces on the Playhouse stages: Yasmin Seedat (Grizelda) is a founder member of Vivian Moodley’s ENACT Theatre Company and Zama Mchunu (Eve), better known as a dancer, currently performs with the Richard Ellis Dance Circle.

They handle their dialogue well and have just the right sassy attitude to make them believable as good-hearted prostitutes. Grizelda finds herself feeling guilty when her clients are unable to ”perform”. Zama has broken the golden rule by falling in love with her “Friday Fred” but has sacrificed her happiness by not revealing her feelings as he relocates to Johannesburg.

Grizelda is the bargainer, sending prospective clients packing when they offer her a miserable R20. She doesn’t believe in being overworked. R100 or nothing. After all, she’s got standards! She relates some of her experiences while urging Eve to get an accent to make herself more interesting. She believes that accents make good marketing strategy in their line of business.

In a well-played and emotional scene, Eve explains what made her become a prostitute while what must have been an equally horrendous memory for Grizelda is only hinted at.

The lighting changes follow shifts of mood which I found a little disconcerting. With only one person on stage, this is unnecessary. Where two people are talking to each other, it is illogical. The first change in the lighting state was the one in which the whole piece should have been played. Nicely dark and dramatic, it offered a more realistic parallel to the dark streets on which they operate.

The actresses play too often out front (to the audience), rather than to each other. Now that the drapes have been removed, The Loft’s acoustics are excellent and is one of the most rewarding spaces in which to perform. There was no need for microphones and one of them was giving off constant distortion, presumably as it caught against costume or jewellery.

Another staging problem I had was the fact that the characters spend a fair whack of time seated on a bench. How many ladies of the night have you ever seen sitting down while they are touting for customers? Leaning either side of the lamppost while they chatted would have been more realistic. Although the costumes were in different styles, I didn’t see the logic in having them both wear pink and black.

In Love All By Myself has a further performance as part of the Hip Kulcha double-bill tomorrow afternoon at 15h00. Tickets R20 for both productions. They are worth attending if you are interested in seeing new productions get off the ground. Book at Computicket. – Caroline Smart




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