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Venue: Catalina Theatre
CAST: Sandy Bigara, Chanel Meager, Arno Wagenaar, Christiaan du Plessis
UNTIL: February 22
THE Catalina Theatre at Wilson’s Wharf takes its name from the twin-engined Catalina flying boats of the Royal Air Force’s 262 Squadron which operated in Durban harbour during World War II. The theatre is situated at the position of the original control tower.
Sandy Bigara’s latest play, Just Yours, is based on a true love story set in 1943 and takes in four locations: the cabaret lounge of the former Marine Hotel; a living room in the hotel; the military canteen, and a street area. This is a challenge even for the Catalina’s wide stage and sometimes one area tends to blur into another.
The story focuses on Amy, a young visitor to Durban. While looking for work, she stays with her fiery aunt who is the assistant and lounge singer at the Marine Hotel, a real establishment that was then situated on the Victoria Embankment. She meets two servicemen – Danny and Barney – and their initial prankish behaviour repels her.
Danny seeks her out later and she finds he’s not as bad as his mate! All too soon, he learns he has been deployed to the 262 Squadron RAF in St Lucia, to fly surveillance missions in the Catalinas. However, this is wartime and relationships are fragile. Tomorrow may never come and the war has already taken its toll on human life. The death of a loved one can cause the bereaved to be jealous of those falling in love, leading to ill-advised actions.
Chanel Meager is charming as Amy, with Arno Wagenaar an endearing Danny. Bigara brings much pathos to the role of the aunt and a lot of the humour comes from Christiaan du Plessis, who plays the irrepressible Barney and a toffee-nosed chef!
The show includes golden oldies, some of which are sung by Bigara, and there are scenes where Amy and Daniel dance together. Bigara’s aim to show that dance is what brings the two together, but this is not sufficiently explored.
I attended one of the earlier performances which was beset with technical problems. There were also glaring period inaccuracies with props and costumes. However, I understand these have now been dealt with.
Bigara is committed to her craft and constantly hones her work for better effect. I think this production is worthy of further development.
For now, it’s an engaging evening’s entertainment with a heartwarming scenario that links to the origins of Catalina Theatre. – artsmart.co.za
• Just Yours ends February 22. Runs Thursdays to Saturdays at 7pm with an extra matinee on February 22 at 2pm.
R100 show only, show and dinner R160 at Computicket or call Sinazo at the Catalina Theatre at 031 837 5999.
The meal takes place at John Dory’s and is available pre-show on Thursdays, and before and after the shows on Friday and Saturday. John Dory’s: Wilson’s Wharf complex (Entrance 2) off the Victoria Embankment.