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

CRASHING THE NIGHT (article first published : 2000-07-7)

"This place looks like the inside of a tea cosy or the Taj Mahal," quips James Borthwick as the hard drinking seen-it-all cigarette salesman de Wet as he enters the stage of Paul Slabolepszy's latest play Crashing the Night.

With its sumptuous wine red velvet walls and ruched panels, plus armchairs with white and gold plastic antimacassers, pedestals with naked statues and a well-stocked bar, he's wrong on either count. And that's pretty much how things go for de Wet from then on - the evening rushes from promising to chaotic to downright hideous when he discovers he's about to face the future as a member of the unemployed.

Graham Hopkins plays Bromley, his uptight corporate long-suffering superior who uses words that really get up de Wet's nose like "fiscal friendly", "pro-active" and "global initiative". This pairing is a re-hash of the Corky Laubschagne/Richard (definitely NOT Dick) Hopcroft duo seen in Life's a Pitch. While one would like to see these two good actors working together in different roles, what the heck? They do it so well.

De Wet and Bromley are on their way to a corporate seminar when they stop over at what the programme describes as an "adult entertainment club in a town somewhere in Mpumalanga". Just when the two have given up waiting for anybody to appear, onto the scene comes "hostess" Clarise, the glorious Camilla Waldman. Clad in black lace and leather with a skirt that can be unhitched in a split second, she has an attitude the size of Bromley's ego.

Enter a third player - and he's REALLY big - Sello Sebotsane as Jack Daniels, a name which prompts much double-speak around the bar. Inexplicably, he seems to be very concerned about a delivery of Dogmor. Then in breezes a former boxer, the mercurial Paul Slabolepszy himself, who blithely announces he's smashed Bromley's precious car.

Clarise comes on very strong to Bromley, de Wet loses his wallet and the Dogmor turns out not to be Dogmor. These are just a few of the antics that make up the action in this hilarious play written in the time-honoured Slabolepszy style that is playing the fringe of the Standard Bank National Arts Festival.

Directed by Megan Willson, Crashing the Night guarantees the laughs and is set to be another blazing success from this writer who seems to have cracked the formula to prise audiences away from their television sets.

As I said, my only gripe is the Borthwick/Hopkins "double act".

Crashing the Night is due to open at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre in Durban on August 29.




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