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

GEORGY PORGY (article first published : 2003-08-11)

Thomie Holtzhausen arrived in Durban less than three years ago. With an impressive number of productions – either as actor or director - under his belt, he brought to the local scene a passion for theatre that was infectious. He has appeared in Kwasuka Theatre Company’s Shades of Marguerite Poland and Tin Hat Frolics, also at Kwasuka, where his genuine performances endeared himself to audiences.

artSMart readers will know his reviews from the 2002 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown where together we covered about 19 shows, writing approximately 10,500 words between us! He has worked closely with me on D’ARTS magazine, The Durban Performing Arts Theatre Survey and various video productions. We co-wrote and appeared in the first commissioned play for the new Springbok Radio project and I helped him launch his brainchild, the Durban TheatreDIARY.

I also directed him in Clinton Marius’s compelling two-hander drama, Vergissmeinnicht, which won critical acclaim at the 2003 National Arts Festival.

Therefore, I approach a review of his performance in Georgy Porgy with a certain amount of hesitation as it seems like reviewing a member of the family.

Despite this, I do believe that I bear out the feelings of tonight’s audience at the Square Space Theatre that he presents a delightful and highly entertaining hour-long production adapted from one of Roald Dahl’s acclaimed short stories.

More often than not, transferral of a particularly site-specific piece from its original setting does not always work. The moods, style, culture and types of character invariably lose quality and structure in transposition to another country or language group.

Skilfully and tightly directed by Peter Court, Georgy Porgy merrily slips into a South African scenario where an English vicar becomes an Afrikaans platteland dominee who responds with glee at being addressed as “padre”!

George describes himself as “mildly liberal in his attitude to others” and considers himself reasonable in his day-to-day behaviour. However, he has a major problem. Women. Although he valiantly tries to subdue his true feelings, the females in his parish are onto him like leeches and the story abounds with delicious anecdotes of his encounters. George was much influenced by his broad-minded mother and an early experience of watching rabbits being born made a major impression on him. Before he moves to his final destination, he hilariously recounts an experiment to see whether the male and female of the rat species behave in the same way as humans!

Georgy Porgy played the last National Arts Festival with great success and Durban audiences now have a chance to see the show in two more performances at the Square Space Theatre on August 18 and 25 at 20h00. Bookings on 082 805 2888. The production will also appear on the Natal Witness Hilton Arts Festival and plans are in hand for a provincial tour. – Caroline Smart




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