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STOP IT I LIKE IT (article first published : 2003-05-3)

The genial Gee Jays were the first performers at Langoustine Theatre by the Sea (now known as Lango’s Theatre) in 1999 with TheThree Tonners. Five shows and five years down the line, they’re still going strong and their current offering Stop It I Like It is in the same mould.

For those unfamiliar with the Gee Jays – Grant Bell, John Didlick and Gary Mckenzie – they’re three regular fun-loving Durban guys who’ve been performing together for more years than they care to mention. They don’t set themselves up as the kind of performers who win theatre awards or create ground-breaking material. They do what they do best – close harmonies, froth and nonsense - all the while sending up situations, the audience and each other!

The material can be corny, sometimes passè, hopelessly outrageous – you’ll understand the meaning of this if you ever get to see Gary Mckenzie and John Didlick in tutus - and often fairly below the belt although I’ve never found it offensive or ugly. Sensitive audience members should be warned that there is a take-off of The Vagina Monologues.

All three are highly talented and professional in their presentation. Tall and well-built, Grant Bell is the suave ladies man; Gary Mckenzie, the most volatile, nimble-footed and versatile while the acting and singing honours are undoubtedly John Didlick’s. After having called him a choreographer’s nightmare in a review once, I have to say that he never put a foot wrong on the night we saw the show. Not bad for someone only weeks out of back surgery!

A lot of the material in Stop It I Like It we’ve seen before but that doesn’t dim the enjoyment, such as Sound of Silence/Sirens which looks at the state of crime in South Africa with telling lines like “they even pinched the portaloo”! Things come closer to home with Durban receiving the same treatment. Sung to The Teddy Bears Picnic, it is a satirical and often uncomfortably true look at aspects of our city - definitely not a song to be recommended for any tourism promotional material!

Always an honest performer, John was a delight in Unchained Melody and his rendition of an uncomfortable airsick passenger in Jet Plane brought on the laughs; Grant and Gary did a cool rendering of Me and My Shadow. Gary’s Mr Bojangles wasn’t so successful and Grant’s Devil in Blue Jeans didn’t suit his vocal range. There’s also an amusing sketch about Gary’s visit to the sperm bank.

Stronger direction could allow each individual’s talents to be better presented. They really came into their own in the second half and their send-up of The Village People – as The Village Idiots – was brilliant. The programme also includes songs like Hey Baby, Sha-Boom and Take Me Home Country Roads as well as the title number.

The setting is classy and elegant with velvet draping, the only permanent props being cutout figures of two well-endowed ladies.

Tickets R130 (inc. three-course meal). Starters include Salade a la Mode du Chef; Fresh Melon and Parma Ham (which could do with a little more ham), and Duo of Jalapenos and Sweet Pepperdews stuffed with Feta. Main course choices are Peri Peri or BBQ Chicken (which I opted for and found it enjoyable); Homemade Italian Pasta topped with Butternut Sauce and Feta, and Grilled Linefish of the Day which my two partners described as excellent. For dessert there’s Brie and sweet Chilli Sauce or Fresh Fruit Salad and Coconut Ice Cream.

The show runs at Lango’s Theatre until May 25, Tuesdays to Saturdays at 19h00 for dinner with the show at 20h30 and Sunday at 18h00 (show 19h30). Book at Lango’s Theatre on 031 563 7324 or through Computicket or by calling 011 340 8000. – Caroline Smart




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