Second Time Around

Directed by Basil Appollis, Set design by Leopold Senekal, Starring Loukmaan Adams, Keenan Arrison and Jody Abrahams

at The Baxter until 1 May. ASTRID STARK reviews

First published in the Cape Times 20 April, 2010

 Gut-busting musical romp is a crowd pleaser.

 

Death has a twisted sense of humour in Jester Productions’ latest musical farce.  Yussie, Loukmaan Adams, and Roddi, Keenan Arrison, are charged with the monotonous job of handling lost baggage at the Cape Town International Airport.  However the young and animated Roddi has big dreams of achieving instant fame as a performer at the World Cup opening ceremony. He drags the older and reluctant Yussie along with his whimsical schemes.  Jody Abrahams becomes Death as he slips into a fabulous pair of raven black wings and sunglasses which creates a Grimm Reaper meets the Blues Brothers effect.

What follows is a hilarious rollercoaster ride that includes a baleful road trip, a stuffed rabbit road kill, a spietkop/traffic cop with an ear for music, death in dark glasses, gumboots, a dash of audience participation, and all this interspersed with lots of singing and dancing.  Leopold Senekal’s set design is pure magic as he transforms the stage into the snug, somewhat battered, official lost baggage room.  Suitcases of all shapes and colours contain the lives of international travellers and they hold a great deal of fascination for Yussie and Roddi as the two speculate on who the owners might be.  The walls of the room are sadly moulding and a rusty pipe tells a story of neglect.   The actors use Senekal’s props to full effect as an old wooden desk is spun around to reveal the front face of a car, complete with functional headlights, and a personalised number plate.  A suitcase becomes a scooter that Roddie gives Yussie a lift on.  The exhaust pipe falls off and Yussie laments by singing. ‘Oh lord what have I ever done to be with such a young one,’ – a slight twist on a Kris Kristofferson classic.    The stage lightning is masterfully handled as it transforms the baggage room into a stormy night filled with frightening thunder bolts and lightning.  The atmospheric lighting adds to the originality of the show and at times it feels like a character on its own. 

Loukmaan Adams as the older and more sensible Yussie delivers a gentle and thoughtful performance.  I would have liked to hear more of his silky smooth voice.  Out of the three singers his voice came across as the most developed, versatile and pleasing.  However the sound production on opening night really let the cast down.  Their microphones were not carrying their voices above the overly loud background music.  This was especially annoying in the first half. During interval a woman loudly lambasted the sound guy, complaining that she can’t hear the lyrics. It improved slightly during the second half but we still strained to hear some of the words.  

 Young Keenan feels like an instant hit.  He is gorgeous and has a lanky body that he twists and curls into brilliant dance moves. He also has a very enigmatic stage presence and he became an audience favourite with his raunchy yet tongue-in cheek performance of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face.   The interaction between the older, traditional Yussie and the young and fearless Roddie is handled with great tenderness and as the ensuing events reveal their contrasting values and attitudes it does not come across as contrived.   The two actors appear to have great respect for one another and their adroit comic timing had us in stitches.  Throughout the performance, the actors take classic songs such as Dolly Parton’s 9-5, and Bill Withers’ Lovely Day, and give them a local flavour and twist.

Left to Right Loukmaan Adams and Keenan Arrison.

Left to Right Loukmaan Adams and Keenan Arrison.

Jody Abrahams’ take on the Grimm Reaper also feels fresh and innovative.  He is part sleazy ringmaster, and part neurotic and petulant harvester of reluctant souls, to which is added a cool game show host with a bizarre sense of humour.  His voice did not feel as strong as it should for such a large singing role but it may well have more to do with the overall poor sound quality on the night. It may be best for them to employ a sound engineer as the show is mostly a musical and the lyrics are important to the overall enjoyment of the performance.  I would also like to hear a bit more of Loukmaan Adams’ voice in the overall production with a little more focus on the enjoyment of his voice rather than constantly downplaying it by poking fun at himself.  Once the opening night wrinkles are smoothed out I would imagine that this feel-good comedy show will be a runaway hit with audiences of all races and ages.

  • The show starts at 20h15. Ticket price and block bookings: Monday R70, Tuesday until Thursday R90, Friday and Saturday R110. Discount on block bookings.  Book at http://www.computicket.com
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