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DEFENDING THE CAVEMAN (article first published : 2005-09-28)

By his own admission, Tim Plewman has been performing his one man show, Defending the Caveman for nine years and tonight, the opening night of his three week Durban run, was his 1392nd performance. The show was written by Rob Becker and was first staged in San Francisco in 1991. I saw it performed by Tim Plewman in January 1999 and subsequently at the Apollo Theatre in the West End three months later. I preferred the performance by Tim, which was Pieter Toerien's production, directed by that doyen of comedy, Rex Garner, and adapted by Tim to give it a South African flavour. Seeing it again now, Tim has lost none of his flair, he is as good as ever and the play is still superb entertainment.

This was my first visit to the iZulu Theatre at the Sibaya Casino & Entertainment Kingdom, North Coast, and I was most impressed with the venue. It is steeply raked and every seat in the theatre is a good seat. As a backdrop to the set on the large stage are three large framed pictures, a female statue and two prehistoric drawings, all of which come into the start of Tim's presentation. The furnishings are an armchair and a TV set appropriately in Stone Age style, a tiger skin rug, a side table and a box. These form an ideal setting for his monologue.

His comedic timing is impeccable with rapid delivery, never a dull moment. The dialogue is extremely funny and, as all good comedy should be, there is a strong underlying message put over most powerfully. This makes it a very worthwhile theatrical experience and most stand-up comedians could learn from his presence, movement, delivery and material.

The whole premise of the play is how the Caveman tackles the eternal, incomprehensible and seemingly unfathomable and insurmountable differences between men and women, with humorous insight and without passing hostile judgement. It has a positive outlook and offers unusual yet delightfully apt, insights into one of the most discussed aspects of human nature.

The basic theme of the difference he promulgates is that women are gatherers and men are hunters. This premise is approached from many aspects with excellent examples - from cupboard space, scattered underwear and wet towels and TV viewing to conversations and foreplay. His anecdotes and advice are spot on and he has the audience with him all the way.

Tim affirms that this will definitely be his last run of Defending the Caveman in Durban before moving on to Cape Town and Johannesburg for the final seasons there. We have had several warnings of a "final season" before but perhaps one should believe him this time, so it might be your last chance to see this excellent play and this outstanding performer if you have not seen it before, and well worth another visit if you have. He plays to packed sold out houses for a very good reason!

The lighting is excellent and all very much on cue, which adds considerably to the performance. This production has been pared down to 90 minutes without an interval instead of the previous two acts, a considerable improvement as it previously tended to go on for too long and to pall.

Defending the Caveman is presented at the iZulu Theatre, Sibaya, from September 27 to October 15 for three weeks at 20h00. Tickets R90 and booking is through Computicket or the Sibaya Box Office on 031-580 5555. - Maurice J Kort




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