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A FROGGY FAIRY TALE (article first published : 2003-03-30)

Normally the little creatures fill me with a kind of horror akin to loathing but I must say that I found Peter Court’s frog quite endearing. The puppet character stars in a delightful play for children currently running at the Catalina Theatre.

A Froggy Fairy Tale is produced by the Creative Madness company – notable for their highly successful Beauty and the Beast some years back. It features Peter Court, who also wrote the piece and directs, Clare Mortimer and Olivia Borgen. All three are currently appearing in Greg King’s The Memory of Water which has just been extended at Kwasuka Theatre until April 5.

It’s a fun show for youngsters running under an hour where the three energetic actors provide a new and entertaining fairy tale set in a mythical land of princesses and talking frogs!

The trio first arrives looking like a band of travelling players, which is exactly what they are. Muttering and grumbling, they blame each other for the fact that they have taken the wrong turning and are lost.

“Oh, look – an audience!” announces the garrulous Gusto (Peter Court), played as a kind of early John Gielgud. Not to be outdone, the verbose Bombast (Clare Mortimer) adds her views although with her erudite and overly-academic turn of phrase, she takes a lot longer to say things! Spot (delightfully played by Olivia Borgen) is fortunately on hand to translate (rather pithily) some of the phrases liable to be unfamiliar to the children in the audience. However, the nuances do not escape their adult companions!

Before long the actors have unpacked the trunk and set up a wooden framework on which they swiftly hang a succession of painted cloths to indicate changes of scene. Using masks to aid changes in character but the barest minimum of costuming, the three set about looking for a story to entertain their “unexpected” audience. After much argument – Spot maintaining that she never gets any good roles and is always relegated to stage management – they hit on the story of a lonely prince named Fidelio who is turned into a frog by a rather vague and forgetful witch.

One of the most enchanting scenes is between Clare and Olivia when the frog is on the point of expiring but could just … maybe … perhaps … possibly… be revived with a kiss which will return him to his princely status. Peter is adorable as a reluctant Scottish fairy completed with tattered wings and scrawny wand.

This is the first time that Catalina has hosted a play for children and the venue offers much space for theatre of this kind. With the lights set for Chanson D’Amour (Daniele Pascale’s show) which is currently running, the actors need to make sure that they “find” the available light. Also, young audiences demand a certain level of vocal energy from their theatre and Clare Mortimer needs to step up her projection to match her colleagues.

A Froggy Fairy Tale runs until April 7. Performances at 10h00 and 12h00 daily. Tickets R30 (R25 children under 12). Book on 031 305 6889. Special discounts for bookings of 10 or more and birthday parties etc can be arranged. – Caroline Smart




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