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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 LOSER - BARNYARD (article first published : 2002-02-4)

Having seen The Loser twice – at seasons at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre and the Langoustine Theatre by the Sea - the only reason I agreed to review it at the Barnyard was to see how it fared in Durban’s latest supper theatre venue at Gateway.

It takes some pulling power to fill a 420-seater auditorium and this Aaron seems to be achieving with ease. I found myself enjoying this wacky send-up of motivational speakers just as much the third time around. We took with us friends who had accompanied us to the show before and wanted to see it again. The party included the gentleman mentioned in an extract from that night’s review (review in full at http://www.artsmart.co.za/supper/archive/247.html)

“I enjoyed the reactions of my companions as much as I enjoyed Aaron’s performance. And one member of the party, a renowned cynic, encapsulated my feelings exactly when he announced that any actor who could get a bunch of adults on their feet performing inane hand movements ending with a “Superman” swoop had to have a great deal going for him! “

The show works extremely well at The Barnyard, this time on a different set. In place of rising platforms, there is a massive white sculpted image of two hands cradling a set of small stairs. This was Greg King’s set for the Rothman’s July Designer Showcase 2000 which was highly effective. The long tables on the ground floor of the auditorium in close proximity to the surrounding gallery allowed Aaron the freedom to hop around on table tops and interact with the audience.

The Loser is about a motivational speaker called Truscott Price who will certainly never win any awards for his chaotic fashion sense. A video screen depicts his psychiatrist (a cleverly disguised Aaron) discussing Truscott’s complex character and chequered career. He introduces a string of completely zany characters whose lives have been changed by the speaker’s teachings. These range from armless Seamus O’Shea and a spaced-out Rod Stewart lookalike Rocky Typhoon to genial Bruce “You Must Wake Up, My Boy” Moodley who is always an audience favourite and seems to find his way into most McIlroy productions. Sometimes appearing on the screen is Aaron’s wife, well-known actress and director Lisa Bobbert.

Directed by Sue Monteregge with music direction by Tim Pullen, the show features the music of Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Shel Silverstein, Tom Waits, Lou Vega and a range of Elvis tunes. Apart from being master of the inane pause, Aaron is an excellent singer so you get to hear good music well sung as well as an evening of utterly hilarious and harmless nonsense.

While The Barnyard Theatre is a supper theatre venue, it does not serve food and audiences are invited to bring their own “picnics”. Nando’s close by takes orders on the night and will deliver direct to the table. For something more formal, you can order from La Petite Marché which specialises in Belgian food and this can also be delivered hot to you in the theatre. It is important to remember that no beverages of any sort may be brought into the theatre. There is a fully stocked bar which sells coffee and cakes as well.

The Loser runs until February 10. Tickets R65 Wednesdays to Saturdays with “Buy One Get One Free” promotion on Tuesday night and Sunday lunchtime. Book on 031 566-3045/6 or e-mail barngate@mweb.co.za




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