A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

supper theatre
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

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

THE LIFE & TIMES OF GOPAL (article first published : 2000-03-9)

After fumbling his way onto the stage in a blackout cursing the Cellar management for budget cuts and lack of lighting, Hamish Kyd introduces himself as one Vishnu Haribhai Rajbansi (no relation to the politician), man-about-town and charmer of note. Latching onto a lady in the audience, he invites her to his house in Chatties (Chatsworth) and embarks on long and humorous directions.

He exhorts male members of the audience to “listen and learn” as he demonstrates how to woo (or in his parlance “con”) a woman with Twilight Time. His advice is also to feed the objects of their affections with lines from Shakespeare or Wordsworth. “That’s how you get the “cherry” (parlance for “girl”),” is his sage advice as he moves around the audience singing Words.

While bemoaning the fact that in America soap operas there are no “ugly fellas”, he boasts that South African soaps give ugly people a “chance to express themselves artistically”. This prompts him to launch, toothy grin at the ready, into the life story of his “cousin brother”, Gopal, who was really ugly. So ugly that the Family Planning Campaign used to use his photograph in their advertising poster!

Vishnu describes his and Gopal’s early schooldays with “arse-creeping teacher’s pets” Fatima and Prem and their visits to the movies to see Westerns although they left before the end because it usually depicted the annihilation by the US cavalry of their “cousin brothers” the Red Indians. There are stories of early encounters with girls in “Lovers’ Lane” and experiences at Greyville Racecourse as they undertook a “serious” study of horse racing. Then we learn of Gopal’s marriage and his strange response to the sounds of his unborn child in its mother’s stomach as well as hilarious accounts of his time in a mental asylum. Later he becomes a driver for deaf and dumb tourists before he ends his days on a cannibal island.

In paying homage to Vishnu’s mother for sheltering Gopal, Hamish performs a song he wrote with guitarist Mike de Jager titled Mother (this One’s For You) which is being presented for the first time in this show although the number was written in 1987. He closes with a medley of rock numbers such as Blue Suede Shoes and Under the Moon of Love.

Hamish has an offbeat and unusual comedy manner which he intersperses with song, proving he can handle a good upbeat number with ease. The show suffers from lack of preparation – not so much from a point of view of Hamish’s performance – but from any kind of set dressing, props or choreography. He performs on a bare stage with only a mirror ball for added lighting effect. The show is clearly a last-minute “filler” between other productions and it is only Hamish’s genial stage presence, acting experience and ability to tell a good story that makes the evening work as well as it does.

I would have preferred more music interludes because Hamish is a natural song-and-dance man but possibly now the show is up and running, he will expand the action a little.

The Life and Times of Gopal runs until March 26. Tickets are R30 (R25 for bonus performances). Dinner is optional and the menu includes a Tomato and Tarragon Soup starter and a choice of Grilled Tender Breast of Chicken topped with a creamy Masala sauce or Fillet of Fish blackened on the Grill with a blend of Cajun spices. For dessert there is Traditional ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Wheelchair Report: While the Cellar staff are extremely helpful, the only way you can reach the venue is (like the Royal Hotel’s Backstage) if you are carried down the stairs. Once in the venue, there several more steps to negotiate but it is possible to get a wheelchair into the ladies loo although you can’t close the door behind you!.

As my wheelchair incarceration hopefully draws to an end, Durban audiences and artists should acknowledge that they have much to be grateful for to those people (particularly my husband) who have lumped me around the various theatre venues so that I can get reviews or publicity out through whatever means I have at my disposal.




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart