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TOKOLOSHE COME AND GO (article first published : 2006-08-3)

Just over a year ago, Neon Anthems – the inimitable duo Liam Magner and Jacobus van Heerden - gave a short excerpt of their Neon Anthems Flying Comedy Show at a benefit gala for Kwasuka Theatre. Appearing in a line-up which featured most of Durban’s highly experienced and seasoned performers, they more than held their own – impressing all and sundry with their focus, professionalism and fresh material.

The Neon Anthems Flying Comedy Show went on to have a run at Catalina Theatre and included a story titled Tokoloshe Come and Tokoloshe Go which I remember delighted me at the time. (See review in Drama Archives)

Now a year and Durban Theatre Awards for best New Actors and Best New South African Script later, they are back at Catalina with a full-blown production of Tokoloshe Come and Go. The setting is simple but effective with kraal fencing topped with animal skulls and feathered chickens. Gauze screening allows the play of lights over African masks and a stretched skin panel. Mention must be made of the lighting in this production, it was very effective.

The story deals with “the mighty umZimkulu village” and the people who live there, including famous warriors like Mpo, Stickyman Hadebedebe and the upstanding Tebogo, not to mention the modern day counterpart simply known as Patrick. Then there’s the dreaded witch Nthokozana and Tebogo’s wife Mzintsi.

The story careens wildly from incident to incident – occasionally hopping out of context as the two make disparaging remarks about each other, such as the not-so-solid quality of Liam’s calves! Their switching of characters is masterly and it is hard to believe that these two have only been working together for the past six years (some of it in high school) and not 26!

They are equally capable of playing impressive and arrogant warriors or simpering maidens and the witch is sheer delight. There’s musical input from Jacobus’s acoustic guitar and reed pipe while Liam is a dab hand at the drum.

While there is a lot of send-up comedy, their respect for African tradition remains strong. There are delicious moments too numerous to mention as the story moves forward in time and commodities such uNokia and uRevlon come into the villagers’ lives. Tebogo faces a real challenge when he comes home to discover his wife is too busy watching Desperate Housewives to fetch water from the river! The witchdoctor’s even buying Lottery tickets, which is delightful irony in itself!

Tonight that dreadful overhead extractor fan in the Catalina auditorium seemed louder than normal and although I was sitting in the third row, I missed a lot of one of Liam’s most delightful characters – Uncle Sershan Moodley, the shady dealer who graduates from Tokoloshe Gorge to Gateway.

Tokoloshe Come and Go! runs for about an hour of delicious mayhem at Catalina Theatre only until August 13 with performances Tuesday to Saturday at 20h00 (Sunday at 18h00). Tickets R60 (Two for the Price of One for students and scholars). The concession of Buy one Get One Free runs for this first week until August 6. To book phone Thandeka on 031 305 6889.Don’t miss it! – Caroline Smart

The Neon Anthems will be at the Hilton Arts Festival in September.

Catalina Theatre is now online and you can get tickets through www.strictlytickets.com This is a new innovation for Durban allowing theatre goers to purchase tickets via the internet after which confirmation is received via an sms giving a reference number to exchange for the tickets at the venue.




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