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DEFENDING THE PLANET (article first published : 2004-11-26)

On June 4, 2004. I ran a review about Aaron McIlroy and Lisa Bobbert’s Defending the Planet, at the Catalina Theatre on Wilson’s Wharf which focused on the couple’s “energy at full voltage”.

That voltage is still at maximum power in their return season at Catalina which runs up until December 24. Both artists were honoured at the recent Durban Theatre Awards: Aaron for his performance in Defending The Planet and Lisa for her straight dramatic role in Laughing Wild.

Defending The Planet, which is deftly directed by Sue Monteregge, was a joint winner for Musical Theatre Production. A further award went to Tim Pullen for Sound Design.

The effective setting is the sixth Annual General Meeting of Alien Abductions Anonymous (AAA), created with revolving panels and lit geometric shapes by Sue Donaldson-Selby. Michael Broderick’s sure hand is on the lighting, giving us a smokey silvery atmosphere that hints at unearthly beings lurking nearby. You know that there’s a fun show ahead when Lisa opens the proceedings by introducing herself as Lucy Sky, the daughter of Cher and an alien!

Lisa Bobbert never fails to astound me with her capacity to tackle just about anything – in this show she performs Wuthering Heights in ballet shoes, en pointe no less, and she’s singing better than she’s ever sung before. Lisa is also pregnant and, at a time when most expectant mothers would be thinking about taking it easy, this dynamo is out there on stage every night giving her all! My favourite character of the evening is the dungaree-clad car guard who tells the “AGM” about her encounter with an alien and his vehicle!

Aaron is also consummate performer – as capable of a strong dramatic role as he is of the wild and whacky characters he has created for the Aaron/Lisa shows. Two of the most popular personalities appear in Defending The Planet: the frenetic wide-eyed Nigel Bjorn van Rensburg and the smooth-talking Veejay Moodley (sporting a natty sparkling wig for this season). As Nigel, Aaron races around the stage, either thumping the model of the alien or heading for unsuspecting members of the audience to garner their comments.

All hilarious, good clean (well, nearly - if you discount a lot of sexual innuendo) fun, Defending the Planet is a highly effective response to previous shows by other performers on the subject: Defending the Caveman, Defending the Cavewoman and Defending the Cave Brats.

I am sure it will be a major hit over the festive season. Book soon otherwise you won’t get in!

Tickets R65. Block booking discounts available at R60 per ticket for groups of 20 or more (R55 per ticket for groups of 100 or more). To book call 031 305 6889 or 082 335 6088. – Caroline Smart




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