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GURU (article first published : 2004-02-27)

There’s plenty of scope for satire in the New Age movement: the self-helpers' claptrap; the endless American Indian spirit guides; the cult of expensive chunks of crystals to put you in touch with higher beings. Clinton Marius makes a sharp point about the latter - people who pay that kind of money for rocks obviously need contact with a higher intelligence.

Marius is the writer/performer of Guru, and particularly in the first part of the show there are effective points being made. Marius performs New Age versions of Don't Worry, Be Happy and Gilbert and Sullivan's Modern Major General and creates some memorable characters who poke fun, though perhaps more gently than they could, at the movement. And while they are doing it, there are offstage recordings of a crowd awaiting the (inevitably late) arrival of Guru Sunshine - he of the blue hair in the show's posters.

It was after he made his dramatic appearance from the unfolding petals of a wire lotus flower that I felt things slipped a little. Guru Sunshine looks splendid but satire slides into farce, and some of the point of the proceedings seems to get lost. Tuesday was the first public performance of the show, and I feel that some reworking of this section would help things along.

Another problem is the amount of time Marius spends offstage while the recordings of the announcements of Guru Sunshine's soon-to-happen arrival are playing. These breaks make the action seem rather disjointed, though they give the audience a chance to admire director and set designer Caroline Smart's excellent set. With just a few props, some curtains and strings of lights, she transforms the bleak Studio into a New Ager's delight.

It is early days for Guru - there's a run at the Loft in Durban after the Hexagon - and it will presumably get slicker and quicker as Marius gets into his stride. At the moment, the show does seem to stop and start, and the subject matter could easily be subjected to a rougher ride. There is no need for kid gloves in satire. - Margaret von Klemperer, Arts Editor, The Witness.

”Guru” is at the Hexagon nightly at 19h30 until Saturday. Bookings at 033 260 5537. It then moves to the Playhouse Loft to run from March 2 to 24.




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