There’s no business like show business, and now there are no backstage secrets either, with a new revue lampooning the off-stage antics in the world of theatre. By LESLEY STONES.
The best humour is always based on truth, and the best way to touch your audience is to really know them well. So performing a parody about the theatre to an audience of theatricals is a guaranteed giggle.
But Two in the Bush gets a lot funnier than that, with the brilliant Kate Normington and Ilse Klink delivering real belly laughs to make even casual theatregoers crease up with glee.
The show is a structured free-for-all as the two actresses perform original songs or old tunes with new lyrics sending up the fraught and financially uncertain life of a thespian.
Nobody is credited with writing the show, which was compiled from input by several brains including the actresses, their musical director and on-stage pianist Rowan Bakker and director Jaci de Villiers. It’s a gem of a script set in a dressing room where the skinny Normington and chubby Klink are sometimes friends, sometimes rivals as they work together or face off at auditions.
It’s cleverly constructed with lashings of witty patter, deliciously bitchy asides, and numerous in-jokes that are funny even if you don’t know exactly who they’re ridiculing.
A highlight is a medley of songs adapted to suit advertisements, with ‘Poker Face’ for Powerade, and ‘Holding out for a Hero’ when you’re holding out for a Milo. And it’s all a lot funnier in practice than it sounds in theory.
The ladies are absolutely fabulous, sending up themselves as well as their situations. Klink auditions as a swamp monster complete with a costume she designed herself, and agrees to work for free, in a moment that reminds you how low you can go when you’re trying to cimb high.
Normington appears in a harpoon outfit, desperate to be the best sperm whale to ever tread the boards.
Then there’s the hilarious ‘What Kind of Man’, sung as they read some reviews and berate theatre critics for making a living by killing off someone else’s dreams. By this stage critics in the audience were shrieking with laughter, and I’m not only giving the show a rave review because of a guilty conscience.
The antics are occasionally held in check with a tinkle from Bakker on the piano, who keeps a straight face as he supports the fast-paced humour erupting around him.
Amid all the comedy it’s easy to overlook how good these two performers actually are, until you consider the range of roles and vocals they’re delivering.
You don’t have to be theatrical to love this show, because it will delight the inner entertainer in everyone.
Two in the Bush runs at Sandton’s Auto & General Theatre on the Square until July 20. DM
Photos: Philip Kuhn
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