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

DEFENDING THE CAVEBRATS (article first published : 2003-02-13)

Logical process. First there’s a man. Then there’s a woman. Then, invariably … there are children. Or, if you don’t feel particularly enamoured with the younger generation … brats!

This is the route Aldo Brincat has taken with his new show Defending the Cavebrats running in the Playhouse Drama which is his answer to Rob Becker’s smash-hit Defending the Caveman performed in South Africa by Tim Plewman (well over 1,000 performances to date) and its sequel, Emma Peirson and Vanessa Frost’s Defending the Cavewoman.

The Drama is one of three theatres in Durban created specifically to cater for the human voice and its acoustics are excellent. So I found it a little disconcerting that Aldo uses a microphone. I can understand Tim Plewman using one in the vast 1300 seater Opera but the Drama is a superb theatre to work in and you can be heard clearly with suitably placed voice projection.

That aside, this is definitely one of Aldo’s best performances and Ian Roberts’ direction has extracted some lovely moments from him. Particularly poignant was his “self-introduction” to his unborn child. Hopefully after the opening night’s performance, he will slow down a little and allow himself – and his audience – to breathe a little between changes in thought and scene. The show could also do with a bit of judicious pruning.

Aldo produces a series of clearly defined characters and accents, following the path of a young married couple. They are comfortable in being a twosome and enjoying a certain self-gratifying standard of living until one day the woman decides that her biological clock is running out and it is time to have children. Needless to say, this announcement is not greeted with gales of delight from her husband who sees such an action as a destructive threat to the beautiful body of his wife, not to mention the fact that he’ll never get his dream car!

The text is delightful with Aldo’s unique and offbeat sense of humour to the fore, such as his description of a small child as a “live Willards Kniknak”. Wandering from cramped SMS thumbs to the weird names given to only children, he maintains that babies should not be seen by friends or associates for at least two and a half years. During that time all one needs is a toilet and a fridge as the infant does nothing but “cry and poop”! He also advocates a Helpline for parents.

He had audiences in stitches with enactments of shopping trips, ante-natal classes and his suggestion that one should “practise with puppies” before having a real baby.

The stage setting is visually pleasing with attractive pieces of furniture - although they are never used – as well as several elegant huge vases and a Persian carpet.

While Defending the Cavebrats is a must see for anyone with children, the show does have a universal appeal. It runs until February 23 with performances Tuesdays to Saturdays at 19h30 and Sundays at 18h30 with matinees at 14h30 on February 15, 16 and 22. Book at Computicket or on 083 915 800. Block bookings through Margie Coppen on 083 251 9412. – Caroline Smart




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