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GREAT OUTDOORS FOR DURBAN (article first published : 2002-03-31)

Neil McCarthy's watershed contemporary drama The Great Outdoors about four ordinary suburbanites facing a complex dilemma is being staged for a Durban season at the Square Space Theatre on the University of Natal campus from April 10 until May 4.

Sexy, edgy and witty, The Great Outdoors touches nerve endings that make it contemporary and provocative. Thespian visionary Maurice Podbrey who bought Copenhagen to South Africa, is producing and directing McCarthy's challenging and ambitious new play which was first premiered to major acclaim at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in July 2000.

Maurice Podbrey is involved in theatre projects both in South Africa and Canada. He has carefully chosen a strong Durban cast for the KZN season of this hard-hitting drama. Raymond and Paula are an easily recognisable successful suburban South African couple. Raymond (Ben Voss) is a car salesman with an elegant marketing executive wife (Tamar Meskin). They meet up with the dark and brooding Neville (Esmael Teixeira) one of Raymond's buddies from the army who is now a police major, and Cassie (Belinda Henwood), a spirited club dancer off to Miami.

One night, Raymond returns from an affair, he runs down a drunken man from a squatter camp - panics - makes all the wrong decisions and turns to Neville for help. But Neville has his own agenda and Raymond's life begins to untangle. The repercussions reverberate through the lives of all four characters.

Hailed as one of the most important post-apartheid plays written in South Africa, The Great Outdoors is about ordinary people whose lives are lived with little sense of the realities about them. It takes one incident to shatter that insularity.

There is an icy harshness to the script. It examines the rawness of what it means to be South African and cope with complex issues in a way not unlike JM Coetzee's handling of similar material in his powerful novel Disgrace. This suburban morality play is, however, not without its lighter moments.

Neil McCarthy is perhaps equally known as an actor, TV presenter and producer as well as a director and writer, He came to prominence in the early 80ís touring as an actor with the works of Barney Simon, and simultaneously developing a career as a writer and director in theatre.

Book at Computicket nationwide on 011 340 8000 or through Joan Walsh on 031 261-3487.




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