Life, etc

Theatre review: Twitching and moaning

By Lesley Stones 26 June 2013

Every so often it’s delightful to go to the theatre just to enjoy some frivolity - to laugh at a lightweight piece of fluff rather than be emotionally stirred by an angst-filled production. But if you still appreciate a bit of intellectual banter and a twist or two in the plot, then Twitch is the perfect candidate. By LESLEY STONES.

This is a new South African comedy by Robert Fridjhon, about two mismatched couples in a bird hide deep in the Kruger. They’re competing in a bird-spotting contest – which some people do, apparently – so the script is appropriately full of snipes.

Twitching soon dissolves into bitching as the couples have a crack at the other members of the bird club, then quickly turn on each other and on their own partners too.

It’s a scenario that could quickly dissolve into pointless name-calling and cheap jibes, but Fridjhon’s script manages to keep it all rolling along quite nicely. Fridjhon is usually farcing around on the stage rather than behind the writing, which puts him in a fine position to know exactly what will have the audience laughing.

There are a few moments of childlike bickering but mostly the plot delivers a more sophisticated level of neat one-liners and funny quips about a mixed bag of topics including religion, sex, children and ambition.

Directors Steven Stead and Charmaine Weir-Smith keep the action flowing while the set by Greg King is a skilful replica of a bird hide.

The play comes with an age 12 restriction because of the swearing, most liberally dished out by a bombastic Michael Richard, who plays opinionated and domineering men so well. He’s always a delight to watch, even if the script here does call for him to become a little too loud and juvenile.

Louise Saint-Claire is lovely as his dumb-ish blonde wife, with Russel Savadier playing the often stuck-for-words meeker husband dominated by his striking wife. She’s commandingly played by Bronwyn Gottwald, who ruffles a few feathers by delivering plenty of home truths to the egotistical eggheads around her.

It’s a fast-moving production delivered with perfect comic timing, and some lovely facial expressions from Richard to show us what he thinks of his fellow birders. DM

Twitch runs at Montecasino Theatre until July 14.

Photos: Suzy Bernstein

See more on www.lesleystones.co.za.

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