WATCH THE BIRDIE: Tim Wells and Lisa Bobbert in a scene from Twitch, currently running at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. Picture: Val Adamson


DIRECTOR: Steven Stead

CAST: Jailoshini Naidoo, Tim Wells, Iain Robinson and Lisa Bobbert

VENUE: Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre

UNTIL: February 24

RATING:: *****

IF Twitch – which is award-winning actor Robert Fridjhon’s first play – is a sample of what we can expect from him in the future, then stand by, South Africa, to welcome a new master of comedy!

Twitch, which is KickstArt’s first production of the year, had its world premiere at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre this week and the capacity audience received it with gales of laughter throughout. There are some glorious comedy lines and you don’t have to know a thing about birds or bird-watching to appreciate it to the full.

Excellent performances come from Tim Wells as Finlay (a short-tempered mining engineer), Lisa Bobbert as Maddie (his pragmatic wife), Jailoshini Naidoo as Venice (an elegant marketing executive) and Iain “Ewok” Robinson as her husband, Harper (a nerdy paleoanthropologist).

They are taking part in a bird-watching competition, organised by the Sandpipers Club. The two men are on the committee – and there is much to be said about that! There is a time frame to the contest and as the play opens, the men are studiously scanning the surrounding bush, calling out the birds they have jointly identified. Maddie frantically tries to list them as they rush along, while Venice is preoccupied with her cellphone, desperately trying to find a signal.

To explain the plot would give too much away, but the play moves at a good pace, offering all performers a chance to show their skills of versatility. It travels over rocky patches as personal secrets are revealed and rivalry rears its head. The differences between the four characters start creating animosity and this results in a full-on brawl!

In the middle of all of this, Venice has a true wildlife experience and in an eloquent speech, recounts her experience as she became converted to the magic of the bush.

Greg King’s inspired set of a bird-hide in the Kruger National Park is placed centre stage, taking up about half of the full stage area, giving the impression of the vast bush outside. Beautifully designed by Tina le Roux, the lighting changes subtly to mark the passage of time through- out the day as the blazing sun passes overhead. A shadow of a skeletal tree gives added atmosphere.

While the set offers three stepped platforms, the actual working space for the actors is no more than about 4.5m2 in total. It is thanks to director Steven Stead’s masterly direction that the visual picture of the characters is constantly changing within that small area, offering different moods and tensions.

A passionate conservationist, Fridjhon is pledging a percentage of his royalty fee to the FreeMe Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.

Twitch runs at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre until February 24 from Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm (Sundays at 2pm and 6pm). Tickets R130 (R100 pensioners/ students).

There is a Valentine’s Gala Performance on February 14 when tickets are R200 and patrons will receive complimentary sparkling wine and chocolate on arrival.

Book through Computicket. For block bookings of 10 or more contact Ailsa Windsor at 083 250 2690 or [email protected]

After its Durban run, Twitch goes to Montecasino in Joburg and the Theatre on the Bay in Cape Town. Don’t miss it! –