Production: Aunty Merle – It’s a Girl!
Director: Lara Foot
Cast: Marc Lottering, Royston Stoffels, Jennifer Steyn, Nicky Rebelo, Carmen Maarman, Zoleka Helesi, Rushney Ferguson, Julian Place, Sizwesandile Mnisi, Anzio September, Tashreeq de Villiers, Crystal Finck and Rori Bingham
Venue: The Baxter Theatre until February 1, 2020
Reviewer: Rafiek Mammon
Much has been said about the role theatre can play in one’s life – from holding up mirrors to educating to pure entertainment. We choose what we are in the mood for, not unlike flicking through television channels, and off we trot to the theatre. And, as the curtain rises one wonders what magical world one is going to be transported to.
In the case of ‘Aunty Merle – It’s a Girl’, you will not be wasting your money or a trip to the Baxter Theatre. The best thing about ‘Aunty Merle – it’s a Girl’ (since its first rendition ran to packed houses for three seasons) is undoubtedly still the man himself: Marc Lottering. And, when he is in stand-up mode – like when Merle talks to her sister Moira in Australia – Lottering is at his funniest. One almost wishes there were more such monologues in the piece.
If it’s a cerebral challenge you’re after, you’d be better off watching Sundance since the story about babies and relationships doesn’t add profoundly to one’s reservoir of knowledge albeit completely relatable. If, however you want to be amused and forget about your woes for a solid two-and-a-bit hours, then I cannot think of time better spent – it beats the hell out of a load-shedding stint, that I can promise you! And, as entertaining as Eskom and SAA capers can be, they cannot hold a candle to Lottering and his antics, with the audience in stitches every time he appeared on stage as the beloved aunty from Athlone. It’s a real gift to be so illustrious and command a stage the way Lottering does. Only a handful of performers can, with their mere presence, bring unbridled joy to audiences: performers you cannot take your eyes off of, irrespective of the number of people on-stage with them. There is a bit of a danger in this, especially when the support cast is visibly weaker. The pressure on the lead to push or to overact could then mar or even pull unbalanced focus. Having said that, the bottom line with this theatrical work is this: It is refreshingly original. The ensemble works well together. It entertains to the hilt. Lara Foot’s direction is unflawed. It boasts catchy tunes. It warms the cockles. Lottering is simply a master. ‘Nuf said.
* Book at www.webtickets.co.za.