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

THE GOLFER (article first published : 2008-09-4)

Just opened at the Heritage Theatre in Hillcrest is Aaron McIlroy’s new show The Golfer which promises another smash-hit to follow his other one-man shows, DOF, The Loser and The Stand-up. Following the successful formula of introducing a number of wild and whacky characters, The Golfer is a series of sketches unveiling life on and off the golf course as presented in conference format with the audience in the guise of delegates.

Hosting the evening is motivational guru Truscott Price, a firm favourite from previous shows, suitably dressed in hectic golfing trousers, pastel harlequin-patterned pullover with sparkling white cap and shoes. He appears as a sports psychologist who is promoting the Bhum Bhum Shiya Khulu Golf Estate – well, if you can’t go to Perth or London, this is the next best option! - and the “Reach for a Green” Foundation. He offers his take on golf, in the process performing suitably-titled numbers such as Knock on Wood, Eye of the Tiger; We Are the Champions and Queen’s Play the Game.

When looking around for props, the Stead/McIlroy team hasn’t just stopped at a golf bag, they’ve brought in the whole golfcart! This forms a backdrop for the next character, one portly Bobby Singh from the pro shop who offers a very amusing golf-themed number based on Rolf Harris’s Court of King Caractacus.

In a hilarious send-up of well-known Durban fashion personalities, we meet Calvin Porque wearing a deliciously outrageous costume designed by Peter Court. Expect Colours of the Wind and Hot Stuff! Aaron McIlroy is a master at looking dof and vulnerable and this is the character of Gary who is not all he seems to be, although Josh Groban’s You Raise Me Up might give you a clue. His secret revealed, he turns YMCA into CLUB!

Leonard Schmuck chief researcher at the SA Golf Institute offers his insight into the technology of golf and reminds delegates that there’s a fine line between hobby and mental illness. He’s too nervous to sing anything!

One of the highlights of the evening was Laverne Levin, representing the long-suffering golf widow, who manages in her languid and stylish way to manipulate her golf-mad husband. Her first lesson in golf saw her jewellery going further than the ball and she’s given up trying to remember or pronounce the name of the estate! All animal prints and ultra-blonde bob, she gives us a plaintive Somewhere That’s Green before pulling all the stops out with Don’t You Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me from the Pussycat Dolls.

The Aaron McIlroy energy is powered by high-octane adrenalin and then some! Director Steven Stead, who has co-written the show with Aaron, keeps him carefully under control and allows for some nicely underplayed moments.

Under the guise of Radio Fairways, the voice-overs are a performance entity in themselves with the combined talents of Aaron McIlroy and Tim Wells producing a wealth of different voices in clever and amusing links. The inimitable Lisa Bobbert (Mrs McIlroy!) also makes her own presence strongly felt as one of the members on the Estate!

Tim Pullen’s backing tracks are powerful – they have to be, to match the McIlroy energy – but last night they were introduced at too high a level, creating an imbalance between singer and tracks. Hopefully, this will settle down and may have been due to an understandably tense atmosphere in the control box because a technical disaster just before the show seriously affected the lighting plot. All kudos to Aaron McIlroy and the technical team for pulling the show off under these conditions.

The Heritage Theatre menu last night included Feta and Roasted Butternut Tower, Cock-A-Leekie Soup and Panzanella of Cherry Tomato. I chose the former but, while it was attractively presented, tended to disappointing and uninspiring. However, served with rosti potato, vegetables and kumara crisps and Bordelaise Sauce, the Tournedos of Beef more than made up for it. Other main course options are Roasted Vegetables; Pan-Fried Chicken; and Oven Baked Line Fish.

The Golfer premieres at the Heritage Theatre in Hillcrest runs to October 5. Tickets R185 pp from Wednesdays to Saturdays (R160 pp Tuesdays and Sundays) include a two-course meal and the show. Meals are served from 19h00 Tuesdays to Saturdays, with curtain-up at 20h30 (Sunday meal at 12h30 with curtain-up at 14h00) Bookings on 031 765 4197. – Caroline Smart




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