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THE FARAWAY FOREST (article first published : 2006-07-1)

It is delightful to see that the Durban theatre industry has pulled out all the stops for this July with a range of shows for younger audiences and scattered around the city in a variety of venues too.

The latest offering from the Catalina Theatre, which has really come out tops in presenting regular theatre for children, is Koobeshen Naidoo’s The Faraway Forest.

In the Faraway Forest is mean queen and main baddie Ms Pumblebrus, (played completely wickedly by Kumseela Naidoo) who is determined to destroy the forest to make way for a freeway for her own selfish gain. The forest creatures then join together in an endeavour to thwart her plan in a madcap romp in which they go in search of Plump Fairy’s magical fairy dust – the power of which will help overcome the evil intentions of Ms Pumblebrush. And, of course, good triumphs over evil – and the forest is saved by the noble deeds of the creatures.

The cast features Henry Ramkissoon as a warm old man Gramp, a sly and slimly Wormwood played by Nirvana Naidoo, a completely over-the-top Plump (the second “P” is silent) Fairy played by Thabsile Ndlela, Lazola Dabula as a hard-of-hearing Clang Bang and Sikhelela Dlamini as Ms Pumblebrush’s reluctant sidekick Fumbelina.

Written by Kumseela Naidoo with the cast, The Faraway Forest could do with some tightening up here and there but the overall impression is that the audience walks away with having had a fun-filled adventure into a magical world.

Clearly this group of enterprising thespians has had to work with on a very limited budget but this did not detract at all from the audiences enjoyment. The fact that this critic had two three-year olds perched on either knee riveted (along with the older children) for a full 55 minutes must surely mean that the performance struck all the right chords.

It is sheer joy to watch children in a theatre environment actually engaging, clapping, laughing with the goodies and yelling at the baddies, as opposed to watching them gawking mindlessly and dispassionately at a TV set.

Faraway Forest runs at Catalina Theatre, Wilson’s Wharf until July 15 at 11h00 (except Monday). Tickets R40 include a harbour boat ride. Bookings on 031 305 6889 - Charlotte Fairfax




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