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All aboard for a journey of laughter

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to Theodore Jantjies and Maurice Paige in Platform 9

PLATFORM 9
DIRECTOR: Christo Davids
CAST: Theo Jantjies and Maurice Page
VENUE: Golden Arrow Theatre, Baxter
UNTIL: January 25
RATING: ****

 

SILLY, light-hearted and extremely funny, this play is not serious about anything but making you laugh.

The premise is simple: two guys miss their train to Joburg and spend the day on the station, angry at each other. They are bound to go on the journey, but they just have to figure out how to make it happen.

Playing multiple characters, Theo Jantjies and Maurice Page start off as Theo and Mau, the friends trying to get to Joburg.

Then they throw in all the people you would normally find on platform 9 at Cape Town Station, if you hang around there long enough.

Having done that, I had to laugh at their depiction of the determined hawker and the more determined preacher man, because I have met these people.

Sometimes they break the fourth wall and address the audience directly, which means about halfway through the play the audience has relaxed enough with the idea to start talking back at them.

The two take it in their stride, answer- ing back and working it into the show.

The way Jantjies keeps a straight face when Paige first comes at him as the smooth-talking purveyor of anything from lip ice to a gun is pretty impressive.

Neither of them breaks character or loses his rhythm, despite the audience’s inadvertent non sequiturs.

Jantjies’ intense commitment to making his “mincing queen” character work was just another way of saying, “let’s patsy”, which is the overall tone of the play.

It is a piece of candy floss meant to make you laugh and not overthink the idea of being entertained for the sake of being entertained.

If you don’t understand a modicum of Afrikaans, this is not going to make any sense. And if you haven’t hung out with a number of coloured folk over a protracted period, then this will fly right over your head.

The entire production carries a heavy dose of nostalgia for an old way of entertaining kids before TV and the internet stepped in as babysitters.

Watching Jantjies and Paige, I was reminded of being banished to the garage on a rainy Saturday afternoon with siblings and cousins to “rehearse a play” (to get us out of the way).

We’d imitate people we knew, just have fun, and eventually put on the play, creating a makeshift stage and charging an entry fee of a couple of cents.

It wasn’t about being actors or contemplative or solemn, it was about having innocent amusement and a pleasant time. Which is exactly what Platform 9 is all about.

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