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THE EFFECT OF GAMMA RAYS ON MAN-IN-THE-MOON MARIGOLDS: (article first published : 2003-08-12)

As its next production, award-winning theatre company, the Actors Co-operative present American playwright Paul Zindel’s Pulitzer prize-winner The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds.

Essentially a play about women, Gamma Rays is an electrifying slice-of-life tragi-comedy which delves into the psyches of a mother and her two daughters struggling for survival in a world that no longer cares. Abandoned by her husband, and struggling against poverty and hardship, living almost below the breadline, Beatrice tries to make the best of a life with no prospects.

A moving and hard-hitting drama which explores the harsh reality of life at the lowest end of the social scale, The Effect Of Gamma Rays was written in the 70’s when it became an immediate smash hit. It was transformed onto the screen by husband and wife team Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward and became instantly popular on the art circuit.

Gamma Rays is an intensely dramatic and intelligent piece of theatre, and although originally an American play it has a universal significance, and for this reason the Actors Co-op has chosen to set this production specifically in the heart of Durban’s Stamford Hill area.

“It will certainly move the city’s theatergoers,” says Director Garth Anderson. “I hope the play will stir the emotions of the audience as they see the lives of real people who could be their neighbours or even their families mirrored on the stage.”

Gamma Rays stars Mpume Mtombeni as the mother from hell who is trying unsuccessfully to raise her two teenage daughters in a society that refuses to accept anything other than the norm. Nondumiso Tembe co-stars as the youngest daughter, Tillie, who retreats into the world of science to escape her overbearing mother.

Alongside these two stalwarts Mamthandi Zulu makes a welcome return to the stage after years of retirement. The role of Ruth is played by Ntando Cele and Raeesa Karrim completes the entirely female cast.

Mpume Mtombeni is no stranger to Durban audiences. She began her career in the theatre in 1992 when she joined the Kwasa Theatre Company at the Playhouse. For this company, she appeared in Emandulo, The Birds and Beachwise. She also appeared in Des and Dawn Lindberg’s Godspell at the Civic and Julius Ceasar at the Market.

Nondumiso, known to her friends as Ndu, is equally well-known on the Durban stage. For as long as she can remember, Ndu has trod the boards of the professional stage. For the Playhouse, she has been seen in Annie, in which she played the title role, and Mata-Mata. She was also seen in Leopard Skin at the Kwasuka. She has made numerous appearances as a soloist for the KZNPO. For the past year she has been studying acting singing and dance at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York where she received straight A’s for her final exams.

The Effect Of Gamma Rays On Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds can be seen daily (except Mondays) at the Square Space Theatre on the campus of the University of Natal, Durban. Performances Tuesdays to Saturdays at 19h00 for 19h30 and Sundays at 17h30 for 18h00. All Tuesday performances are sold on a Pay What You Can basis, with a minimum price of R25 pp. All other performances cost R50. Pension and student concessions, as well as block bookings for schools and other organizations can be arranged. Tickets are available through Computicket, or by phoning Garth on 083 439 1532.




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