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

FEEDBACK (article first published : 2002-07-5)

There’s not a lot that hasn’t been written – and by people far more articulate than I am – about the brilliant partnership of Andrew Buckland and Lioniel Newton. Grahamstown and festival time wouldn’t be the same without one of their productions.

This year sees another favourite on offer. Directed by Janet Buckland, Feedback is subtitled How to spot a subversive rump steak. It’s all about the revenge of the foodstuffs against disastrous elements such as an all-powerful multinational food chain run by Messrs Dearth and Grave.

First we have Mother Mearph (Mother Earth?), a gargantuan female figure with many “children” who bestrides the earth, taking care of her charges. The fields of vegetables grow for all their might and all goes well until one day an helicopter organised by Dearth and Grave annihilate all the crops in order to stamp out opposition.

Mother Mearph is murdered and the hunched chain-smoking Detective Deadly Serious arrives on the scene to investigate the crime with the help of two of her sons.

Newton and Buckland are an awesome team – by introducing the character of the detective they had their work cut out to ensure he was always part of the scene. This required both actors to take on the role - sometimes straight after each other and mid-scene. Sounds chaotic? You need to see it to appreciate the full essence of the action.

To explain the story would be to spoil the fun. Suffice it to say that in the end all the vegetables and food stuff revolt against their destroyers and their identities are revealed in a highly humorous scene. The highlight of this was an impromptu guitar duo from the blue cheeses (The Blues Brothers) singing a little ditty titled Short Shelf Life Blues! There’s always a heroine needed to save the day and who better than Virgin Olive Oil?

Newton and Buckland aim to stimulate the audience’s imagination while putting across a social message or issue through their clever routines. A sequence that particularly impressed me was a speech played out on the public address system with Lionel Newton producing the echoes. – Caroline Smart




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