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LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD (article first published : 2008-04-7)

If you need to entertain the little ones over the school holidays, Dingalings Productions are mounting a delightful Children’s Theatre production of Little Red Riding Hood at the Catalina Theatre. This is a most enjoyable retelling of the classic story with many new twists and turns to keep the children's attention, as well as that of the accompanying adults.

Sydney (Koobeshen Naidoo) sneaks onto the stage, very appropriately to the strains of the Pink Panther theme and confides to the audience, after obtaining the assistance of one of the children to put on his back-pack, that he is often known as Silly Sydney. His handling of a crying child in the audience was impressive, attempting to allay the little boy's being frightened at his entrance. Sydney has a hat with wolf's ears to show that he is a wolf but he is actually a Wolf-in-Training, by Goody-My-Two-Shoes (Henry Ramkissoon), who undertakes his mission with military precision. Silly Sydney is not the best student and undergoes much whipping, perhaps rather too much. However, this appeals to the children in the audience. With much hilarity and considerable duplicity on the part of the instructor, Silly Sydney is put through his paces.

Enter the sweet Little Red Riding Hood, a loveable Noxolo Mhlongo, and her mother (Nirvana Naidoo) who also doubles later as the luckless grandmother.The set is appropriately a wood scene, on two levels. There is considerable interaction with the young audience and they were ultra-willing participants. The theatre was almost full and it was a delight to see how well the children interacted and indeed in such a well mannered way, holding up their hands when volunteers were requested. They loved the show and there were many very clever asides to entertain the adults in the audience, for example when Goody-My-Two-Shoes as the Wolf is describing his big eyes, ears and ailments, e.g. "my blood sugar is so sweet", and something being "as smooth as sandpaper".

The play is very strong on putting over the messages to save water and electricity, most appropriate in our current Eskom-imposed situation in South Africa.

Koobeshen Naidoo has written and directed this latest children's production from Dingalings Productions as with the previous The Peg Leg Pirate and The Fantasy Forest.

The play is very interactive and gets the audience, young and old, fully involved in the action, especially with a grand disco dancing finale with many children performing with the cast on the stage. It was a treat to watch some of the little ones. The production remains fairly faithful to the original Little Red Riding Hood story but without the woodsman chopping up the wolf, as I remember the story, which is much more humane and there is indeed a very much more moral ending, as befits a show for children.

Little Red Riding Hood runs at the Catalina Theatre, Wilson’s Wharf, until April 12 daily at 11h00 (except Monday) Tickets R45 includes a harbour boat ride (R30 for the show only). Bookings on 031 305 6889. – Maurice Kort




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