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NOT THE MIDNIGHT MASS (article first published : 2000-11-4)

If you enjoy your humour slightly wacky, a little weird and more than off-the-wall, head for the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre to see Not The Midnight Mass.

If you are impressed by singers who have total control of their skills, impeccable discipline, good voices and combine it all with a sense of fun – you’ll get your money’s worth. The show features four highly talented singers who sing a capella and can produce the sounds of an orchestra or percussion section without an instrument in sight and are equally nifty at whistling winds or the occasional mosquito and cicada.

It reminded me of working in the good old days of SABC radio drama and Springbok Radio when the sound effects record either went missing or wouldn’t work on the odd occasion and the cast had to produce their own atmospheric noises!

Not the Midnight Mass is made up of founder members, who also happen to be brother-and-sister, Graham and Christine Weir. Now 12 years on and several cast changes later, their up-front, in-your-face delivery is well balanced by the diminutive Neisha-Anne Harley and tall, chocolate velvet-voiced Adrian Galley.

While it tended to be a little drawn out, the recorded opening sequence was highly amusing when the audience hears the group purportedly rushing around the corridors of the theatre frantically trying to find the stage. Another quibble is that full-on amplification marred certain numbers.

When they eventually arrive on stage, the men are wearing black waterproof anoraks with feathers moulded into wing-like structures. We never find out why. Perhaps the image is more important than the reason!

The foursome sing anything from contemporary rock ballads to baroque although the night I went, Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus came apart a bit at the seams. Most of the songs in the show have been written and arranged by Graham Weir. Favourites for me were his quieter and more evocative numbers like Sweet Valley and Eh Bahran. There’s an off-the-wall song about Druids and sacrificial lambs and an up-tempo description of two castanet fanatics in the Umbogentwini Twins.

They presented a fine rendition of Roger Lucy’s The Night Harry J. went to War as well as James Phillips’ (to whose memory the show is dedicated) You Light me a Light. Before the audience is allowed to get too reflective, there is a blackout and what is heard is a steamy sex scene with a surprising twist.

Not The Midnight Mass runs until November 19. Book at Computicket.




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