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NEON ANTHEMS (article first published : 2007-06-13)

Having creamed numerous awards for their refreshing material and presentations, Jacobus van Heerden and Liam Magner bring in a third member of the cast for their third instalment in the Neon Anthems trilogy which is running at the Catalina Theatre on Wilson’s Wharf.

This third member is the enigmatic violinist Victor Samsinov who holds his own against this irrepressible duo who took audiences by storm from their first appearance on the local theatre scene. Neon Anthems now have a strong following and it was good to see an audience made up of young people (mainly under 25) responding with delight to the amusing lyrics and antics.

A quick glance at the set before the show goes up gives you an indication of the whacky material to follow. There’s a mirror ball, daisy curtains, a bongo drum, a wax lamp, complicated sound equipment, a violin … and a penguin! (PS: We never get to meet the penguin.)

The first three songs also provide an indication of the wide range of subjects you’ll flit through during this enjoyable evening’s entertainment. There’s a walk in the jungle where Neon Anthems steal the Monkey’s Song; a ballad bewailing a failed learner’s drivers licence, moving into a “shoo-wop doobee-doobee” swing number with outrageous lyrics accompanied by angelic harmony dealing with masturbation … and then we move on to herpes!

Enough to frighten you off? Don’t be misled. Presented by these three good-looking young men, Neon Anthems 3 is full of amiable tomfoolery, clever lyrics and good musicianship. Jacobus and Liam – and Victor, too, when he’s allowed to say anything! - are without pretension, guileless and matter-of-fact in their presentation.

There is a fourth “member” of the cast and this is a blow-up doll by the name of Agnes who is – we are told - about to make an appearance at this year’s National Arts Festival. Much amusement is produced by the fact that pretentious one-person shows can receive a considerable amount of money from the National Arts Council while small theatre companies battle to survive!

Neon Anthems 3 has no plot as such – it’s a compilation of songs put together with some fun dialogue. Expect to see break-dance and rap as well as a bit of Country & Western hoedown from Victor! Apart from two Steven Lynch songs (If I was Gay and Hermaphrodite), the numbers are all Neon Anthem originals. You might even get to hear the first song they ever wrote, Antelope, which is accompanied by Victor in an antelope mask and Liam on rain stick! Liam mans the chaos pad and fx sampler to add to the whacky backing.

Neon Anthem’s first official album is on sale in the foyer as well as a music video/DVD.

Catch this zany trio on stage at the Catalina Theatre from June 6 to 24 from Tuesdays until Saturdays at 20h00 (Sundays at 18h00). Tickets R60 (R30 students and pensioners) booked through Thandeka on 031 305 6889 and available online at www.strictlytickets.co.za, www.catalinatheatre.co.za or at www.goingplaces.co.za – Caroline Smart

NB: There is an age restriction of PG13




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