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

DORA HARDYKE (article first published : 2001-09-6)

Currently playing in the Playhouse Cellar for a short run until September 16, is an audience with Dora Hardyke in which an icon of “stage, screen and the occasional circus” looks back on her life and memories while throwing in a couple of beauty hints for good measure.

Dora Hardyke’s been around. Too many husbands to mention and the skull of her latest gazes down on the stage with resignation and probably a sense of gratitude that he is no longer linked to such a domineering personality. Pencil-thin, dressed to the nines with flamboyant feathered head-dresses and immaculate make-up, Dora would have been an unsettling marital partner, to say the least.

Forthright to the point of downright rudeness, she is blithely malicious about her fellow performers (you like my dress? It’s early Dawn Lindberg!) and caustically critical of her audience’s dress sense or lack of it. She grandly takes over the Playhouse Cellar stage and firmly makes the evening her own.

Dora is, of course, Anthony Stonier who has stolen the show many a time during the adult pantomimes in this venue so it’s about time he had his own vehicle. Proving his good command of comedy he has devised and written Dora Hardyke which features two other characters.

Dora is supported by her long-suffering friend and stooge, Beulah. Nicely played by Derek Pearce(who also designed the costumes), Beulah does little else for the first part of the show but sit gormlessly by a record player ready to start it up at Dora’s peremptory cues. However, she has her chance to shine in the second half and one gets the sense that Dora had better watch it because Beulah’s got designs on centre stage!

Dora’s ungainly and vacuously smiling daughter Daphne is played by David Hierons. Another adult pantomime stalwart, David always manages to evince an appealing charm which endears him to audiences despite the outrageous costumes he wears!

If you enjoy the drag show Mince which always plays to packed houses whenever it appears in Durban, you’ll enjoy this one a whole heap better. Unlike Mince which is lip-synced to backing tracks, Anthony/Dora does his own singing and it’s a strong trained baritone which has been heard to good advantage in the pantomimes as well as in Piaf, Brel and Aznavour and, more recently, Let’s Misbehave.

Laughs there are a-plenty and numbers include Lady is a Tramp, a hilarious send-up of As Long as He Needs Me, a disgruntled (because Dora hates it!) rendition of Big Spender and the show-stopping New York, New York.

Anthony has now reached a new level of performance maturity and hopefully we will see more challenging work coming from him in the future. He shows his skills as a straight actor (albeit playing a gay part) in Heather Barclay-Whiffen’s Bulimia Blues which forms part of the DuMarc Cabaret Festival.

Tickets R105 include a three-course meal. Mark Waterworth has designed an interesting menu for this production. For starters, there’s a Creamy Stilton, apple and rocket soup or Thai style calamari with zesty mealie meal. I’m not mad about Stilton but the small taste I had seemed good and I enjoyed my choice of calamari with its unusual mealie meal accompaniment.

One of the main courses is Lamb and Cashew nut curry which was indeed succulent as advertised. The other choice is Chicken Breast topped with olive tapenade and feta, another interesting combination although the bow tie noodles and the vegetables were a little undercooked. Dessert is Vanilla ice cream or Strawberry Mousse.

Book at TicketWeb outlets or at www.ticketweb.co.za Block bookings from Pat Loureiro on (031) 369-9505 – Caroline Smart




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