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Theatre On The Square

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TO volunteer man

Sandton’s Theatre on the Square is one of the few (with Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino) independent theatres in Gauteng. That’s extraordinary, with Daphne Kuhn managing to keep it going for longer than anyone could have hoped for. It’s a fine balancing act because the funds are tough to come by and she has to make it work – every time.

Following the entertaining Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks currently running, she starts off with international favourites Roy Horowitz, Michael Gamiel and Carol Brown from Israel in the Obie award-winning Volunteer Man, with Horowitz directing. Running from February 10 to 22, it is described as a confrontational play that’s “filled with laughter but leaves you feeling like Mike Tyson has landed one on your chest”. Dan Clancy manages to combine humour, serious dilemmas and poignancy with skill.

Don’t you also keep reminding yourself of executing a “living will”? Or listen to stories about assisted suicide and people so ill, they fight to die? The play is an exploration of the rights of a patient with an incurable disease to choose to end his life. It is also a meditation on the “rightness” of the decision another person makes to aid in the suicide.

Then it’s much merriment as Pieter-Dirk Uys sashays into the sexy and oh so naughty stilettos of Bambi in Fifthy Shades of Bambi.

In Pieter’s own words: “Bambi Kellermann is Evita Bezuidenhout’s younger sister. She is the chalk to Tannie’s cheese. Stripper, sex worker and grande horizontale who graduated from the University of Sex Cum Laude – and Fleur du Cap Winner in 2010 for Best Cabaret – Bambi is in Joburg for the first time in 10 years in this Gauteng world premiere, her new fabulous onslaught against the prudish, the improper and the pathetic.”

The season starts on February 25 and concludes on March 16.

Twilight of the Golds is a bit of a throwback. I remember seeing it at a time when arts journalist Matthew Krouse was still on stage. It’s a provocative play with Annabel Linder, who was in the earlier cast. She is joined by Michael de Pinna, David Janks, Caryn Davidoff and Clayton Boyd, directed by Maralin Vanrenen.

It’s the story of a well-to-do Jewish New York family, the Golds. When the pregnant Suzanne is persuaded by her geneticist husband to have an amniocentesis, the tests reveal challenging results for the young couple and the family. Again it’s about morals and making choices and one that will have many scratching their head. The run is from March 19 to April 12.

Laughter dominates next with Matthew Ribnick’s Monkey Nuts, the latest offering from the cele- brated comic best remembered for Chilli Boy and Hoot written by his wife, Geraldine Naidoo.

It might be his latest, but it’s not new and received the prestigious Naledi award for Best Comedy Performance in 2011 and enjoyed standing ovations at every per- formance during the 2011 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. If comedy is what you’re looking for, make a date any time from April 15 to May 10.

If you haven’t heard Cat Simoni sing, catch her in Cat Sings Ella from May 13 to 24. She spent many years singing her way through London, but she’s back and hoping to make it on the local scene.

A stage and a Steinway is all she needs to tell the astonishing life story of Ella Fitzgerald, First Lady of Song. She masters Ella’s repertoire; from the early Harlem years through the Decca and Verve recordings; from the breakthrough A-Tisket, A-Tasket to her Cole Porter and Duke Ellington songbooks and legendary London, Rome and Berlin concerts.

It’s a welcome return to two old favourites who, these days, are seen far too seldom on stage. The extraordinary Graham Hopkins and Vanessa Cooke (directed by Christopher Weare) star in Vigil from May 27 to June 21.

It’s described thus: it’s a play of twisted circumstance and surprising turns, deliciously absurd, incredibly funny and poignantly tender, with a twist that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The humour is wicked, the observations sharp, the writing crisp and cutting, “a small masterpiece” (Globe and Mail).

This is only the first half of the year, and there’s more than enough to keep you coming back.

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