A performance that’s to dine for
PLAYWRIGHT: Becky Mode
DIRECTOR: Megan Furniss
PERFORMER: Pieter Bosch Botha
VENUE: Sandton’s Old Mutual on the Square
UNTIL: March 9
If as an actor you decide to tackle this wickedly witty solo show, you had better be fully committed.
It’s the story of an out-of-work actor, Sam Cooper, who makes ends meet by taking the phone reservations of one of the top local restaurants. The story unfolds as we witness the conversations of Cooper with 36 different characters, all of whom the performer personifies.
It is a crafty piece of writing but the making of the play is in the performance and whether the actor can pull it off. It’s the kind of work that can easily run off a cliff.
The actor, Bosch Botha in this instance, has to be fully in control and in the moment so that he takes the audience with him from the word go. If he falters, so do they and the evening is spoilt.
Yep, it’s a gimmick but if you can take flight and maintain the speed, like he does, it’s breathtaking to watch and hugely entertaining as he shares worlds that are familiar to all of us – dining out and auditioning for a part.
Both of these are rich in characters that can be exuberantly overthe-top and Botha has enormous fun capturing the different types as he smoothly slides from a posh senior citizen to a beyond bored agent’s assistant, Naomi Campbell’s personal assistant to De Kock De Kock, another fictitious character dear to many South African hearts.
It’s about inhabiting each of those characters and holding the attention as you nimbly leap from one phone to the next while almost stumbling from one character into another and back again. If the actor slips for a moment, the spell will be broken.
And that’s part of the miracle of this Bosch Botha showcase. Not only does he switch accents and mannerisms, at the centre is Cooper who has to juggle all these different conversations without missing a beat.
It’s a small story with a big heart and that’s the brilliance of the script. In the frenzy of meeting a myriad of characters, Cooper quietly creeps into your heart as he makes his way in this frenetic world of dealing with frenzied people who all desperately want nothing more than a table to dine at.
Neither the play nor the actor miss a beat. And best of all, everyone is pulled willy-nilly into the play and performance.
You easily give over and pay attention as you hysterically laugh your way through all the antics on stage while forgetting about the real world – just for a moment.