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THE BOY WHO FELL FROM THE ROOF (article first published : 2006-09-21)

The highlight for me at the Witness Hilton Arts Festival this year was undeniably The Boy Who Fell from the Roof, a delightful new play written by Juliet Jenkins who apparently led a tearaway youthful existence in Howick!

Tearaway and irresponsible Juliet Jenkins may have been in those years but that experience – and her possible emergence from it - undoubtedly contributed to her clear-sighted understanding of human nature.

The Boy Who Fell from the Roof is a beautiful piece - poignant, clever and existing on many levels from homosexuality to mother love. Don’t be misled into thinking this is a self-indulgent tear-jerker soapie. It’s not. It’s sophisticated, funny and very real.

The play is a project of the Artscape New Writing Programme. Roy Sargeant’s direction is sensitive and crystal clear, Francesco Nassimbeni’s designs are whacky and offbeat and the performances are all top class. It was especially pleasing to relax into the immaculate voice projection qualities we have come to expect from graduates of Gay Morris and Yvonne Banning’s meticulous training at the University of Cape Town’s drama department.

Rory Acton-Burnell plays Simon, a teenager on the verge of life and his true sexuality. David Johnson is Leonard who falls in love with him. The scene in which he asks Simon to respond is a delight and skilfully played.

Trying to cope with this “new” Simon is his lifelong friend and confidante, Georgina, a deliciously forthright Alex Halligey. Mother is Adrienne Pearce, formerly of KwaZulu-Natal, who brings her strong theatrical experience to bear in this role of a long-suffering woman trying to cope as a widowed single mother. Holding it all together with some glorious throwaway lines is narrator Frances Marek, an actress to watch – and no wonder, considering that she’s the daughter of Paul Slabolepszy!

It’s a tight-knit cast with David Johnson (Leonard) being the tallest member - which adds an interesting dimension.

Juliet Jenkins’s quirky offbeat humour takes a simple story and turns it into a heartwarming theatrical experience. I can’t wait to see her next play! – Caroline Smart




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