LOVE FACTUALLY. Directed by Chris Weare. Written by and starring Alan Committie. At Theatre on the Bay, Tuesday to Friday at 8pm, and Saturday at 5pm and 8pm, until May 14. STEYN DU TOIT reviews.

FROM Lady and the Tramp’s lip- locking while sucking spaghetti, to Kate and Leo posing for a tandem crucifixion selfie at the front of the doomed Titanic, the history of cinema is full of iconic romantic moments.

Opening to our (recently single) hero sipping a slushy in a cinema while a soaking wet Andie MacDowell tells Hugh Grant she hadn’t noticed she was standing in the rain, Alan Committie’s Love Factually takes its cue from these and other several other well-known movie scenes. But that’s pretty much where the honeymoon period ends. Sadly, as many of us know only too well, when the the auditorium’s lights go back on it’s an entirely different love game altogether.

That’s because real life has no script or guarantees for a happily-ever-after. How, then, does one find a way to merge the ideologies from the scripted silver screen to the reality that is your own (often) disastrous romantic life?

Written by Committie and directed by Chris Weare, this is not so much a piece that tries to provide answers to this question, but rather one that aims to find the funny in these crazy matters of the heart. The giggles in the pauses between sentences, if you will.

Blurbed as “more tales from the Caveman” – a reference to Committie’s longstanding stint in the Rob Becker comedy (he did 947 performances in total) – the production arrives in Cape Town following a successful run in Johannesburg.

In a routine that merges traditional stand-up with a fictional character (also named Alan) narrative that may or may not be himself, we then follow the funny-man through a journey that begins with him telling us of his relationship woes involving a woman named Melissa.

Flanked by giant cartoon-like cut-outs resembling a sperm and female egg cell respectively, a lot of what’s happening on stage humorously revolves around the idea of the battle of the sexes. Packed full of Committie’s usual puns, quips and improvisations, what inevitably follows is a jolly evening to the theatre.

Made up of a cheerful row of cinema seats, duvets, splashes of popcorn and a series of video projections featuring character skits and flow-charts, the set was designed by Committie, and constructed by Whacked Management (under John Vlismas).

While it is impossible to be a comedian in South Africa and not make reference to local politics or stereotypes during your routine, where Committie has always had the edge over other comics has been in the way that he never goes for the obvious.

In fact, listen carefully to how he delivers his punch lines in Love Factually. You won’t hear specific names, scandals or references, yet they are very much present throughout.

Those comedians who still joke about Eskom, Zuma and how black people can’t swim and white people can’t dance should go see this show. And take notes. But for the majority of the time this is a piece about relationships. While the idea of starting a whole new journey of showing another person all your quirks and morning routines can be a terrifying prospect, if approached with the right attitude there are also fantastic moments of laughter and irony along the way.

A two-act routine full of outrageous proposals, hilarious side-tracks and fun audience interaction (don’t sit in the first three rows if you’re going to be a sourpuss), Love Factually leaves its viewer feeling slightly giddy. That’s a good thing. Especially if you’re going with a romantic partner.

Which brings me to my final point. Melissa, if you’re reading this, please give Alan another chance. He really likes you. And we’re all rooting for you two.

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