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

PILLOW TALK (article first published : 2003-09-3)

Some of the most important conversations between couples take place in bed: in the afterglow of sex, the companionship of settling down to sleep or those moments when it is possible to voice insecurities, safe in physical nearness. Darkness and a confined space soften the edge of matters which might normally end in confrontation.

On the other hand, with casual sex one or other member of the partnership can easily slip into a proprietorial role claiming a sense of “ownership” as a result of the encounter. Then there are those whose partners are firmly wedded to their bed and nothing can extricate them from the depths of a luxurious duvet – particularly after a heavy social scene or the use of mind-altering substances the night before!

Peter Court has explored all these scenarios and more in his Pillow Talk, a series of sketches set in and around a double bed. The setting means that the action is kept confined and firmly focused with the seven sketches introduced by silent-movie type notices played onto the back curtain.

The production stars three solid theatrical talents: Peter Court, Clare Mortimer and Bryan Hiles. They work well together on stage with Peter’s robustness, Clare’s crystal fragility and Bryan’s forthright, straightforward delivery.

Surprisingly – after attending many productions at The Catalina, it was the first time I have ever sat on the right side of the audience which means that I was also introduced to the intrusive noise coming from the airconditioning/extractor fan ducting. While Peter Court was perfectly audible, as always, it required a certain amount of concentration not to lose any of Clare and Bryan’s dialogue.

In various scenes, Peter Court was delightful as a fussy, prissy gay lover, Clare was riveting in a late-night telephone call informing her lover that she has been diagnosed HIV and Bryan Hiles produces the best performance I have seen from him to date in the sketch titled Rehearsal.

The bed, made by Sterling’s Wrought Iron, is a clean-lined fourposter without drapes or hangings. It is adorned with white bed linen and an inviting duvet which is put to great use when the scene demands that the characters in question have a problem in waking up!

I really enjoyed the show but as a whole it lacked an overall identity, despite the fact that all the sketches stand alone. Some sketches are over-explored and need tightening and others have the capacity to be opened up a little more.

A message to sensitive audience members: Yes, the play has nudity. Yes, it’s about sex. Yes, it deals with gay relationships. .And, yes, the actors (well, Clare and Bryan, anyway) bare all but it’s no more than the perfectly natural movement of getting out of bed and putting clothes on. At no time is Pillow Talk crude, embarrassing or offensive and it is well worth visiting for its refreshing adult content.

Pillow Talk runs until September 14 at Catalina Theatre. Strictly no under 18’s will be admitted. Tickets R65 (R50 pensioners). To book contact the Catalina Booking Office on 031 305 6889 or email: karen@imaginegroup.co.za – Caroline Smart




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