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

FELIX AND FRED (article first published : 2008-01-9)

Felix and Fred is a production appearing on the Musho Festival in Durban.

On his 22nd birthday Felix, who fancies himself as a future rock star, decides to run away from his overbearing stepfather and his nagging mother in Durban to Knysna, where he grew up with his real father before being deserted by him. Fred then appears on the scene via a quick change in persona by Kobus van Heerden who performs multiple roles in this delightfully written and directed one-hander.

Fred is 12 and couldn't come over as more of a nerd when he introduces himself to his school class. He is a keen bird watcher and loves baking, especially crunchies. No wonder he is scorned by the sexy Tanya Becker in the school playground and abused by the school bully, Wayne Bernstein, beautifully scripted and performed by body movement and dialogue without any assistance from costume changes or props.

Fred has been sent to live with his bible-thumping grandmother, another clever portrayal, although the dialogue could have been slower to indicate an older character, but the body movements were spot on, while his parents have travelled to "English to teach China" - "I mean China to teach English", to quote the 12-year old introducing himself to his class. One can only have sympathy for poor Fred.

However, matters look up in every way when Felix and Fred, both newcomers to Knysna, meet. Felix is invited to Fred's birthday party his grandmother throws for him, so that she can get to know this most undesirable character who she has taken in as a border in her garden cottage. Felix gives Fred a fishing rod as a birthday present and this leads to an illicit night-time fishing adventure on a boat owned by a Thai fisherman. Felix mistaken uses the fisherman's cocaine to sooth his bottom after he had sat on the wet seat of the boat. The drug dealer discovers them and the loss of his precious cargo and demands reparation. The Thai accent needs a little work as it had too much Indian influence, but this is a small niggle in an otherwise brilliant performance with Kobus van Heerden warping among the three characters at lightning speed.

There is a further characterisation, that of the announcer of the Annual Knysna R10,000 Fishing Challenge. After a failed attempt by Felix as a street singer to obtain the R5,000 reparation to the drug dealer, the only hope of the two youngsters is to win the fishing challenge. By the brilliant and extremely funny use of key props and ultraviolet light, the very clever storyline progresses.

The short one act play, written by Kobus van Heerden and directed by Liam Magner, has great charm and humour and makes one wish to see more of the presentations at the Musho Festival in case one misses another gem like this one. There are only two performances of the plays at the festival, there will be another presentation of Felix and Fred on January 9 at 20h00., and this play deserves further exposure in a longer season later in the year - if Kobus van Heerden has the energy to withstand the pace! Maurice Kort




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