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

KING OF OLD TRAFFORD (article first published : 2008-04-11; last edited : [an error occurred while processing this directive])

Meet Ricky. Or, to be more, precise, Ricky and his Teddy Bear. The Teddy Bear’s name is George. After acclaimed footballer George Best, we are given to understand.

Staunch Manchester United supporters – we presume “George” is a supporter although he doesn’t say much! – they are waiting to watch the televised match between their heroes and Liverpool. They are comfortably seated in camping chairs alongside a cooler filled with beer packed to just the right height to avoid any extra stretching. ”George” is wearing a fashionable pair of shades and Ricky is dressed in full team gear. The television is positioned to offer optimum viewing angles and, all in all, the scene looks relaxed and calm.

However, all is not well in the life of Ricky. The reason for “George” occupying the second camping chair is because Seelan, Ricky’s lifelong friend since schooldays, is nowhere in sight. Ricky’s in a froth and his mood doesn’t improve when he phones Seelan to be told by his friend that he’s at a candle-making workshop in the Midlands Meander with his new girlfriend, Chamelle. Ricky considers this is no less than a bookable offence and that Seelan deserves a red card for such disloyal behaviour.

There is much talk about Old Trafford until we discover that Ricky’s is not referring to the hallowed sporting ground but to the Old Trafford Bar in Mobeni Heights where he and his mates – a wonderful motley bunch – hang out to watch the games.

King of Old Trafford is Dhaveshan Govender’s one-man play directed by Vivian Moodley which he presented successfully at last year’s National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. This is an accomplished actor who has a good command of comedy as well as dramatic moods. Hats off to him for battling with the handicap of a damaged wrist. This means that his arm is in a sling which severely hampers movement but he makes it look part of the show.

As the well-constructed storyline rattles along on well-oiled wheels, Ricky offers his own personal philosophy on a number of subjects, as well as giving us a hilarious glimpse of his schooldays when “soccer was the sole reason for going to school”. He presents a wide range of characters from the smooth Seelan and Rajen of R2 fame and wild Auntie Shakun to his nagging wife Varshi.

I honestly admit that I am very ignorant of most sports so I went with some trepidation, expecting to have much of the humour explained to me. I needn’t have worried – if you’re as sports-challenged as I am, you will still enjoy the production for its good direction, strong performance and entertaining script. The final moments are very sensitively played as Ricky suddenly realises that he’s been betrayed for years and has been too wrapped up in his soccer to notice.

King of Old Trafford lasts for about an hour and runs from April 9 to 12 at 19h30 at Seabrooke’s Theatre, DHS. Tickets R60 can be purchased at the school or through Computicket outlet. This short run precedes a short appearance at the Witbank Civic, before it heads for Grahamstown again in July. More information from Dhaveshan Govender on 076 785 2034. – Caroline Smart




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