Theatre review: Not the Midnight Mass. Hot Cross Nuns

Posted: May 31, 2011 in Theatre & Event Reviews and Interviews

Popular musical bites back, ASTRID STARK reviews, First published in Cape Times May 2011

This sparkling musical revue is the perfect antidote to the winter blues in Cape Town. Siblings, Christine and Graham Weir, have again pooled their talent and voices to revive their show which dates back 23 years. This time round they are joined by the zesty Amanda Tiffin, and the riotous Anthea Thompson and Donal Slemon.

The result is a foot stomping blend of musical talent and spunky personalities with just enough bite to keep you perched on the edge of your seat and slavering for more. These guys have made a fine art out of a cappella by adding their own arrangements and lyrics to much loved favourites such as Danny Boy, arranged and beautifully sung by the honey voiced Amanda Tiffin, Ledbelly’s Cottonfields, Men at Work’s Down Under, and plenty more. Added to the repertoire of well-known music is their own blend of hand-crafted songs and sketches.

And this is what really lifts them up to the status of ‘hugely entertaining’. Despite injecting years’ worth of experience and talent into the revue, they don’t seem to take themselves very seriously – at all. It’s not as if they are just slapping it up and don’t give a hoot about their work, but it’s more a question of them being very serious about having a lot of fun with their skills and voices. And it is infectious.

We were rolling about with laughter at their uproarious, but perfectly executed, rendition of My Fair Lady’s – On the Street where You Live. You have to see it to believe it. Graham Weir’s original song, Bonnie and Clyde, is a legendary ode to two dolphins in a travelling show that once upon a time visited his home town. It is a bittersweet tale of the creatures’ hunger for the open sea.

At times the troupe can get very serious and it is good ploy to keep the audience captivated and surprised. A hauntingly beautiful sketch filled with voices and underwater sounds tells the peculiar story of a whale desperate to beach. Turned on its head, it is told from the perspective of the whale that cannot understand why the humans keep pushing him back into the cold black ocean. It is a deeply touching piece which raises some philosophical questions.

Graham Weir’s, Eh Bahran from the production Noah of Cape Town, is simultaneously beautiful and disturbing. Craig Leo’s clever lighting adds layers of emotional texture to this piece which makes it feel as ancient and wise as the ground we walk on. However, before we got too wrapped up pondering the true meaning of existence, we are hauled out of the darkness and spat out on the sunny shore with more thigh-slapping song and dance. Fiona du Plooy’s choreography is quite spectacular without stealing the show by turning it into a dance routine.

 It is filled with quirky, at times a bit risqué, sequences perfectly tuned to the words and sounds it accompanies. Each of the singers brings their unique style and voice to the production without one domineering each other. They seem to have packed their egos into their jiffy bags and now they just smile, smile and smile. This rollercoaster ride of song and dance is sure to bring joy to a wide variety of audiences.

 In 2009 Not the Midnight Mass won the Fleur du Cap Award for Best Performance in a Cabaret for their 21st-birthday show. Don’t miss out.

 Price from Tuesday to Thursday is R110. From Friday to Saturday it is R130. Students, senior citizens and block bookings of 10 or more pay R90 from Tuesdays to Thursdays only. Book online through http://www.computicket.com Not the Midnight Mass – Hot Cross Nuns, Directed by Bo Peterson.

 Choreography by Fiona du Plooy, Set and Costume Design by Craig Leo. Musical Direction by Amanda Tiffin. With Graham Weir, Christine Weir, Amanda Tiffin, Anthea Thomson and Donal Slemon. At The Baxter Theatre until 4 June, at 20h15.

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