DIRECTOR: André Odendaal
CAST: Tobie Cronjé, Hanna Grobler, Luan Jacobs, André Lötter
VENUE: Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre
Who out there has not been on a diet, lost the weight only to see it mysteriously return? It’s a pitiful if predictable tale many people face time and again in their lives.
Predictable, thus, is the play Vettie Vettie (translated from My Fat Friend) which has done the local rounds in both English and Afrikaans. It has almost become one of those cult productions.
What makes this return such a joy is that it is the first time an Afrikaans play is presented at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre.
Anything that fleshes out the theatre landscape is a good thing because it adds to the choice and broadens the scope of audiences.
Sadly, the production is bloated. Not only is the topic of discussion fat, the play seriously needs to shed weight in both text and time and the director has expressed his intent on this score. Currently it’s almost too tough an ask to sustain what is really quite a simplistic story.
At more than two hours, it can easily cut and the first to go should be the scene with the sauna because it doesn’t add anything and, frankly, the contraption is an embarrassment.
It looks home-made and tacky and instead of pushing that look and having some fun with it, if that’s the best you can do, it’s presented as the real thing. And in the end, the whole affair runs out of steam.
Because of the story which you can predict from the word “go”, Vettie Vettie, like many of these formulaic plays, depends on the acting. It’s about the ensemble cast, the way they breathe and move together in a way that’s almost regimentally choreographed, but not seen by the audience. Sentences must flow one into another and movement is almost like a dance.
That’s part of the fun of these productions, but unfortunately on the night, the genius on stage, Cronje, was not at the top of his game – and that can happen. But because he is such a strength of the production, the rest of the cast couldn’t hold the show.
One of the trademarks of Vicky, the woman who needs to shed almost half her size and does, is her laugh. It should be the kind of sound that stops traffic. It should almost be the reason to cast a specific actor, but this didn’t happen.
Grobler has a very attractive laugh, but that’s not the point. She’s not going to crack glass – and that’s almost where you have to go with this one. It’s part of the fun. And that should have been her handle.
More importantly, the text is going to benefit greatly if they lose 30 minutes which will prevent repeats of certain jokes and phrases of what sometimes seems a tired translation and once they have less of a marathon to complete, the cast can pick up the pace and throw the punches more securely as they all swing together.