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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

THE SUICIDE KINGS (article first published : 2007-03-29)

Following Ewok’s excellent Spitfire – The Return of the Red I, it was a delight to see another equally innovative, well-directed and performed – and in this case, virtually brand new – drama production at the newly named Kwasuka Cutting Edge Theatre in Greyville.

Seen at the Musho! Theatre Festival earlier in the year, The Suicide Kings has since been developed, re-written and re-staged for this professional debut season at Kwasuka. Directed by Lloyd O'Conner, Suicide Kings is the brainchild of Marc Kay – probably better known to Durban audiences as the hero figure in the adult pantomimes presented by Sue Clarence Promotions. I have watched his progress through his university years with interest and so therefore was probably less surprised than the average theatre-goer at his highly competent performance in this interesting drama which he also wrote.

Another actor whose progress I have followed closely is Clinton Small. Tall, genial and very versatile vocally, he provides the perfect foil for Marc as the gambler’s long-suffering friend and flatmate. Their easygoing relationship is comfortable and believable and I was touched by Clinton’s change from casualness to real concern for his friend borne of a premonition that he is about to enter a highly dangerous playing field.

Using a variety of caps and accents, the two weave a refreshingly dramatic tale that involves a laconic Russian gambler, American “narrators” following the games and a moustachioed boss.

In real life, Marc is a semi-professional on-line poker player so Suicide Kings comes from a personal point of reference. It looks at the hard-hitting dangers of on-line gambling and deals with a young man who gives up his day job – and puts his relationship with his girlfriend in jeopardy – for his addiction. He is offered the chance to take part in the biggest poker game in history … but at what personal cost? The performances are credible and Clinton was especially amusing in the scene where they both come back home more than a little drunk!

If, like me, you have precious little understanding of the game of poker, don’t be put off. This seemingly innocuous tale of an online gambler who gets lucky turns quite suspenseful. While not altering the way it is written, I would have liked the ending to have led us to more of a surprise, just to add that final twist. I really like their quirky choice of music.

Maurice Kort and Frank Graham both reviewed this production for artSMart when they saw it at the Musho! Festival and their comments were just as positive. See Maurice Kort’s review at www.artsmart.co.za/drama/archive/1991.html and Frank Graham’s at www.artsmart.co.za/drama/archive/1990.html

The Suicide Kings runs at Kwasuka Cutting Edge Theatre until April 8 from Tuesday to Saturday at 20h00 (Sunday at 18h00). Tickets R50 (R25 students and pensioners) available online at www.strictlytickets.co.za or on our website at www.catalinatheatre.co.za or at www.goingplaces.co.za

For more information or to book, contact Thandeka at the Kwasuka/Catalina Theatre box-office on 031 305 6889. – Caroline Smart




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