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Two-hander production ‘Spanish Steps’ serves thought-provoking truths at the Baxter Theatre

Published Oct 10, 2023


“Spanish Steps” takes a fresh, quirky dive into the human condition and challenges viewers on a few thought-provoking situations and solutions to them.

Because sometimes life hands you lemons but you were not equipped with how to juice it, get ready for a wild journey of discovery that may lead to some unexpected answers.

And there’s no room for being in denial in the new production with Dianne Simpson and Gavin Werner.

“Spanish Steps” takes a comical and poignant look at the conundrums of fatherhood, as told through the eyes of a father and a daughter.

Trapped in a basement, two work colleagues push each other’s buttons and are desperate to find a way out. In this two-hander comedy-drama, Barry (played by Werner) is a middle-aged, grey-haired, balding white man confronting a life lacking in fulfilment: 25 years in a loveless marriage and as an underachieving employee for the same insurance company.

He is also estranged from his 25-year-old daughter on the eve of her wedding.

Barry’s counterpart is Maureen (played by Simpson), the company’s HR director. She is an earnest corporate player but struggles with her own issues around ageing, loneliness and mistrust of men.

Confined together in a basement, the protagonists get to know more than they wanted about one another. They enter into a fraught dance, triggering each other’s deepest issues and becoming mirrors for each other’s blind spots.

As the tensions rise, the audience is left wondering if they will push each other over the edge, or help each other become unstuck?

The production shines a new light on fraught gender dynamics – from an unapologetically middle-aged white man’s view.

It delves into the topics such as what roles are expected of couples in a marriage, and the plight of women, so often over-burdened and under-valued as caregivers.

Less visible, and less comfortable, are explorations of the ways in which men, too, become weighed down, tethered to domesticity and trapped by expectations of being providers in the traditional, binary sense of conventional marriage.

Writer Werner, who plays Barry, speaks of his personal experience with his father when he says: “It was a tough relationship and I spent much of my own life completely befuddled by his seemingly difficult behaviour.

“At the same time as I grew older and started exhibiting some of the same traits as my dad, I was able to develop some understanding of what he struggled with and above all an appreciation of what a fundamentally good human being he was.

“He was utterly loyal and dependable.

“He worked incredibly hard and he sacrificed an enormous amount for the wellbeing of his family. And when the storm clouds of anger and depression weren’t brewing, he had a wonderful sense of humour.

“It left me wondering why so many good people, men in particular, exhibit the ugly behaviour that we now call toxic masculinity.

“A lot has been made of this phenomenon in the past few years but we seldom ask why it exists and if we do, we rarely ask the question in a spirit of compassion.”

“Spanish Steps” will be on at the Masambe Theatre at the Baxter from October 10 - 22. Tickets cost R150, book at Webtickets.

Mandy Roz. Picture: Supplied

“Interlace Live”

Where: The Masque Theatre, Muizenberg.

When: October 13 at 8pm.

“Interlace Live” is a new music concept debuting at The Masque Theatre. Whether you're an avid music lover or just looking to experience something new, this show is the perfect platform to discover talented local artists who are ready to make their mark in the music industry.

From soulful singers to energetic bands, this show is a melting pot of musical creativity and authenticity.

Musical director Mark Mwaba said: “Our main goal is to inspire and encourage more people to support local upcoming artists.

“We firmly believe the best way to discover great music is by giving these talented individuals a chance and creating a strong community that embraces their artistry.

“By attending our show, you get to enjoy amazing live performances while contributing to the growth and success of these budding musicians.”

Tickets cost R100 and can be purchased via Quicket.

Andre the Hilarious Hypnotist. Picture: Supplied

“Andre The Hilarious Hypnotist”

Where: The Drama Factory.

When: October 12 at 7.30pm.

“Andre The Hilarious Hypnotist” celebrates a record breaking 31 years on stage as South Africa’s very own convener of the strange weird and wonderful. Andre discovered his hypnotic calling after watching a performance of the late Max Collie in action.

No two shows are ever the same as the show’s strength lies in the fact that every night’s volunteers are completely different, leading to a diverse hilarious action-packed evening performance.

With every person reacting differently to Andre’s suggestion, not even Andre knows what to expect when he steps up on stage.

Andre does, however, promise not to disappoint and the audience can expect an hour of side-splitting, hilarious Hypnotic entertainment from their very own community as Andre takes to the stage.

Tickets cost R150 and you can book via