An Afrikaans translation of Nicky Silver’s Broadway hit comedy ‘The Lyons’ and featuring an all-star local cast will show at the Belville Civic Centre from May 9 to 17 at 7.30pm nightly. Translated and directed by Hennie van Greunen, ‘Die Leo’s’ stars the likes of Sandra Prinsloo, Tobie Cronjé, Erica Wessels and Gideon Lombard.
The play chronicles the travails of a less than perfect family littered with damaged souls, chief among them Cronje’s embittered and vitriolic septuagenarian Ben, who finds himself on his deathbed stricken with cancer; this after enduring a loveless marriage of 40 years to Prinsloo’s Rita, an equally unpleasant character who just sits in the hospital reading home improvement magazines and relishing the prospect of redecorating when Ben is finally deceased.
Prinsloo and Cronjé, regarded as two of the most iconic actors in the South African entertainment world, share the stage for the first time since the late 1970s in ‘Die Leo’s’.
Prinsloo was recently nominated for a Kanna award for her work in the play.
Together the two actors play parents of this dysfunctional family – parents you would not wish on your worst enemy. Jacques Theron (‘Lot’, ‘Babbel’) is Koert, Rita’s pampered son and the bane of his father’s existence. Fleur du Cap winner Wessels (‘‘n Seder val in Waterkloof’, ‘Die vrou van tevore’) makes a meal of Lisa, the daughter who discovered early on that the only way she was going to get attention is if she creates as much drama as possible.
Lombard (‘…miskien’, ‘Nagwond’, ‘Bidsprinkaan’) is Brian, the sexy young estate agent who tries to sell Koert a second rate flat in Parow. Petro van den Heever (‘Ysterasters’, ‘Taraboemdery’, ‘Seuns’) is the long-suffering nurse who witnesses this train smash of a family from a distance.
The multi award-winning Van Greunen’s previous translations include long running productions like ‘Shirley Valentyn’, ‘Dinsdae by Morrie’, ‘god van chaos’ and ‘Die monster in die gang’. ‘The Sewing Machine’, his translation of Rachelle Greeff’s ‘Die Naaimasjien’, was a huge hit at the 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Silver’s award-winning ‘The Lyons’, was the crown jewel of Broadway’s Cort Theatre’s 2012 season and Van Greunen’s Wordsmith’s Theatre Factory is the first international theatre company to produce a translated version.
In spite of interest expressed by the other big theatres in Cape Town, Wordsmith’s Theatre Factory decided to stage ‘Die Leo’s in the iconic Bellville Civic Centre, in an attempt to bring professional world-class theatre back to the Northern Suburbs.
At 56 years old, the Bellville Civic Centre was South Africa’s first municipal theatre, followed by die Johannesburg Civic and Artscape. Acoustically the building is one of the best venues in the country, so much so that in the 1950s symphony concerts were broadcast live on the SABC. In 2007 William H Macy and Meg Ryan completed principal filming on ‘The Deal’ at the venue. It is also the home of the annual ‘Want ons Kan/’Cause we can’ charity event that has become a highlight on Cape Town’s music calendar.
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