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

BELLY LAUGHS (article first published : 2002-05-31)

Following the format of Aaron McIlroy’s incredibly successful The Loser which takes the mickey out of corporate presentations, Lisa Bobbert and husband Aaron’s show Belly Laughs follows the line of an ante-natal “conference” with all members of the audience being their pregnant participants! Move over Dame Edna Everidge, Lisa’s here as the tottering bespangled and bespectacled Dr Daphne who hosts the event because of her extensive experience in childbirth – in fact, she likens her birth canal to the Suez Canal .. very busy!

She’s aided and abetted by Dr Physical (Dr Phyl) played by Aaron, suave in red wig and sequinned jacket – advocating birth by Caesarian section as “natural birth really interrupts a gynae’s social life”.

Consummate comedy performers both, they are good foils for each other and have a combined awesome energy that could run a power station! Both have individual musical styles and one of the highlights was Lady with a Belly a parody on a well-known song by Rolf Harris. Another hilarious scene was Boom Boom Boom where a highly pregnant aerobics instructor leaps around – snorting and yelling at her ”class” to move their bodies.

No Aaron/Lisa show would be complete without nerdy Bruce and his pushy wife Charmaine, old favourites from way back. There was a delightful scene in which Bruce discusses the list of things that expectant fathers are expected to do during the birth. I found myself watching his feet which were doing as much acting as the rest of him. And, utterly musical that he is, it can’t have been easy for him to make Bruce always be on the “off beat”. He is particularly hilarious in the Labour Support Section, wearing a false “pregnant tummy” to show solidarity with his wife.

Bruce and Charmaine are only a few of the characters that the pair produce during the evening – another favourite from way back is Nigel who lives in constant threat of an attack by aliens. And then there’s suave Vijay (“You must wake up”!) Moodley. From Lisa comes the hippie Lolita, pink-haired and spaced out. And Aaron’s manic car guard leapt around the stage like a demented Springbok!

Greg King’s cartoon drawings and de Wet Wraight’s audio visual effects make for a hilarious backdrop linking the scenes which follow fast and furious! Mike Broderick has designed the lighting and Tim Pullen is the musical director. Josef van Schalkwyk has produced a multi-tiered set complete with giant lettered building blocks which abounds with stuffed toys. One section allowed a fun silhouette scene to take place.

Obviously a show like this heads for one conclusion – and that is the birth. The tears that streamed down my face during this section weren’t only for Lisa and Aaron’s second child that was so tragically killed but more for the couple’s courage and commitment in coping with the situation in their own way and in their own time.

Whether you’ve produced children or not, this show is a delight. It runs at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre until June 16. Tickets R50 through Computicket or on www.computicket.co.za Group bookings (more than 20 seats) from Sharon on 083 486-3271. – Caroline Smart




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