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For just a few days this week, Artscape Arena theatre is playing host to the kind of theatre they don’t normally present, but is sorely missing form its line-up.
The hour-long dark comedy is an entertaining stab at a very local story of murder, mayhem and maybe not quite what you think. Penned by first-time scriptwriter Warren Meyer, it features coloured characters who aren’t singing for their supper or trying to make you laugh by slipping on a banana peel.
There is no stab at restorative justice or restitution and it doesn’t smack of affirmative action.
Instead, the five characters are just regular folk who happen to be in a rather strange and strained situation. Police Inspector Jaco Vermeulen (Jeftha) is trying to figure out just who killed Oom Willem (Lombard), but his two witnesses are also confessing to the crime which Tannie Dora (van der Ventel) insists she committed.
We get the build-up to the death scene over and over, from each character’s perspective, changing your viewpoint on what is happening. Director Jeremeo le Cordeur’s lighting goes a long way to sharply delineate the various viewpoints, and assists in making sense of the quick scene changes.
Dean van der Ventel impressed as Tannie Dora, not overplaying it, simply inhabiting the character, unlike Anton Jeftha who seemed hammy in comparison.
Some of the fight sequences could do with some tightening up and the middle lacked focus. But this is the first presentation of a murder mystery that will travel to the Fringe at this year’s National Arts Festival and hopefully come back to Cape Town for another run, sharper and even more to the point.
This is not a nihilistic exploration or some existential angst or a happy clappy jolly music fest, it is plain entertainment with a twist upon a twist that you don’t see coming.