Rollicking festive fare for Durban

The 10-member cast of Captain Redbeard and Jeff’s Great Christmas Adventure, starring Aaron McIlroy and Patrick Kenny.

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STAGE: Captain Redbeard and Jeff’s Great Christmas Adventure
– Olive Tree Church, Florida Road, Durban
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
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A REVIVAL of the festive family show that Durban’s Aaron McIlroy and Patrick Kenny put together for themselves and local children last year, Captain Redbeard and Jeff’s Great Christmas Adventure is a rollicking treat from the duo that also gave us 2015’s Funny Father Christmas.

Previously presented on a larger stage at the Grace Family Church in Umgeni Park, the show is an unpretentious little delight, a whirling mix of song, dance and lunacy, that works better on the smaller stage at the Olive Tree Church venue in Morningside.

On a stage dressed with toys and a Christmas tree, against a raised, large screen on which is beamed various footage, we first meet hapless Jeff, played by Kenny, who co-wrote and directed McIlroy’s award-winning Comedy Masterclass.

Jeff works in Santa’s Returns Department, where he fields complaints about toys, alongside his pal, Captain Redbeard (the ever-animated and amusing McIlroy). It is after fielding another phone call complaint from ungrateful children that Jeff and Redbeard get a screen call from Mrs Claus, who sets them on a quest – to take a special gift to children at an orphanage in a faraway land.

Aaron McIlroy and Patrick Kenny as Redbeard and Jeff.

The friends, with assistance from the audience and assorted toys, then have to use their imaginations to reach the orphanage, leading to an adventure that has them travelling over land, sea, air and even outer space.

Their experiences include facing a snake, a singalong and dance-along in a rain forest, a journey across the Caspian Sea (the audience being called on to create the waves). They even get to sing the ludicrous Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen song in a Parisian talent contest where Shannon Kenny (Patrick’s wife) appears as both a host and contestant, doing a great job with the poignant ballad, Mary Did You Know?.

Great to see the charming Shannon on stage again after a long hiatus… let’s hope we hear more of her sweet voice.

In between all the madcap action from the rubbery Aaron and Patrick (who battled with a touch of laryngitis at yesterday’s performance) there are added treats in constant song and dance interludes by seven children.

They deliver songs such as Starship, Better When I’m Dancing, Fight Song, Pi Jesu, You Raise Me Up, the amusing I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas and various carols.

Presented by MacBob Productions, Captain Redbeard and Jeff’s Great Christmas Adventure runs for about an hour without an interval. It is just right for this time of year and a great choice for a family outing – my 23-year-old son, eight-year-old grandson and I had a ball.

Performances are at noon daily from today until Saturday (December 14 to 16). Tickets cost R85  each and can be bought at the venue (opposite Rocco Mama’s in Florida Road) or via Webtickets at selected Pick ’n Pay outlets.

Aaron McIlroy and Patrick Kenny as Redbeard and Jeff.

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