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

JAKE’S REVOLUTION (article first published : 2008-08-14; last edited : [an error occurred while processing this directive])

I first saw Clifford Bryan perform with Dhaveshan Govender at the recent National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in a production called Jus’ Pimpin’ which they unashamedly described as trivial nonsense. The aim of Jus’ Pimpin’ was to generate an income to support their other - more serious - productions, Dhaveshan’s King of Old Trafford and Cliff’s Jake’s Revolution - a venture that paid off successfully.

Better known as a studio musician, although he did appear in Rocky Horror at the Barnyard in 2004/2005, Othello and Sound of Music, Cliff has now brought his Jake’s Revolution to the Catalina Theatre. It’s worth a visit – not just to see a relatively new face on the theatre scene but the show itself is a laid-back and informal evening’s entertainment which includes a good selection of Cliff’s own eloquent and often poignant compositions. Described as light acoustic rock, these include Falling, Romeo and Juliet, Doom Dad, Katie’s Song, Say Goodbye, Fallen Star and Made in No.

Directed by Dhaveshan Govender and David Sherwood, the storyline deals with a pub gigger Jake Harrison who sidelines his Afrikaans birth name for something that sounds more exotic. From a simple farming background he journeys to a concert platform in front of 50,000 people but personal happiness eludes him. His most enduring companions are his guitar and his music – and a stronger sense of hope.

The story comes full circle (hence the “revolution” of the title) as we follow Jake’s life through the agony of auditions and castings to his first gigging job in a pub and on to a major concert. We meet the people in his life – amusing portrayals of his monosyllabic father, giggling mother and visionary grandmother. His best friend Max introduces him to drugs and Max’s death affects him deeply to the point where he assaults the love of his life, Katie. Her final message to him prompts him to leave a concert platform where masses are waiting to hear him sing and return to his pub gig.

Cliff has a disarming and sincere delivery and engages the audience’s sympathy from the start. I would like to see him expand his acting skills and develop this show further.

The stage setting is very simple and could do with some embellishment. A graffiti-bedecked wall carrying the names of pop groups behind the “pub area” needs deconstructing and there are numerous pieces of scenery cluttering the backstage space that could make for interesting visual impact onstage.

Jake’s Revolution runs at Catalina Theatre on Wilson’s Wharf until August 17 from Tuesday to Saturday at 20h00 (Sunday at 14h00 and 18h00) with Buy One Get One Free offers on Tuesdays and Sundays. Tickets R60 (R30 pensioners and students). Bookings through Catalina Theatre on 031 305 6889. - Caroline Smart

The Catalina Theatre is still functioning thanks to the generosity and support of Rainbow Chicken.




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