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CHASING CHAIRS (article first published : 2002-07-13)

And I thought my house was fairly chaotic and fairly full of chairs! Having seen the set of Chasing Chairs, I bow to higher authority. Performing on the fringe of the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, this excellent new play by Sue Pam Grant and DJ Grant should be compulsive fare for any married couple.

Their observations of the merry-go-round of marriage once the honeymoon years have faded are astute, hilarious and incisive. Under Clare Stopford’s sure direction, Chasing Chairs deals with a young couple who seem to spend more time talking to their analyst than to each other and whose home décor is in a constant state of flux.

The husband, played with suitable frustration and barely concealed patience by Marcel van Heerden, has to live with a wife who has a chair fetish. The wife is Sue Pam Grant – a gloriously illogical and free spirited performance. Impractical to the last, she falls in love with chairs of all shapes and sizes and then brings a matching pair home. Not content with that, she is constantly moving them around (hence the title), creating a minefield for the husband who has just got used to the last setting!

Chasing Chairs has a lot to do with dreams and fantasies. He blames her for being fantasy drive and she accuses him of having no dreams or vision. As the play progresses, her behaviour becomes even more irrational and he cannot elicit a direct answer from her as to whether or not she’s pregnant.

The room is littered with children’s toys but we never see the child and he is only referred to once at the beginning as the Al Pacino of the Plumtree Nursery School. Perhaps he, too, is a fantasy.

The play will appeal to every married couple who will recognise the illogical language that husbands and wives speak and the stupid things that can drive each other crazy. In the case of Chasing Chairs, there’s the fact that the husband closes his eyes when he eats his muesli and the wife’s insistence on having no less than eight colanders hanging up in the kitchen.

It’s a beautiful, poignant and funny script. There is also a very moving scene at the end when he promises her the ultimate – and most delightful - fantasy. – Caroline Smart




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