STAGE: Dracula – Club Altitude, Silver Avenue, Morningside, Durban
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
GOOD news, boys and girls – Durban’s annual tinselly treat, the naughty panto-on-a-shoestring-budget, is back and now in its 21st year in the city, and its second year at the intimate Club Altitude in Silver Avenue, off Stamford Hill Road, Morningside.
Once again, it is a lively load of pure nonsense, a giddy romp just right for winding down over the silly season and enjoying with a drink or three. And it has been doing so well that the run has now been extended from December 30 to January 20.
Sure, we have seen better naughty pantos in Durban, but this one, which steers clear of fairytale send-ups to instead take the mickey out of the world’s most famous bloodsucker, remains good fun.
All you’d expect is there – ditzy dames, double entendres, jokes both corny and blue, sarcasm, send-ups, random song outbursts, and nudge-winks at politicians and Steve Hofmeyr, among others.
The production, as well as the venue, have improved considerably since last year, when panto stalwart Thomie Holtzhausen took the reins, writing, directing, producing and appearing in his own panto at his Club Altitude.
This came about after regular panto producer Sue Clarence decided to call it a day on the panto scene, leaving Thomie to create Once Upon a Fairy (Not the Adult Panto).
The cast from that show reunites for Dracula, for which Thomie has coaxed back to the panto fold a crowd-puller, Durban drag darling Anthony Stonier, who stars as the enigmatic count on a raised stage dominated by a penis-shaped archway.
Stonier does a good job as Drac, slinking across the small stage in red-satin-lined black cape, sinking his teeth into some choice one-liners and the occasional co-star, and even, at one point, donning a black, micro-mini dress for a spot of drag.
His co-stars include the amusing, scene-stealing, energetic, larger-than-life Jaziel Vaugh’hann, as saucy and flamboyant Juicy Lucy, chaperone to the dim-witted Mina, played by a bubbly Kerry-Lee McKibbin.
The two find their lives changing by crossing paths with not only Dracula and the nerdy Jonathan, played by lanky and comical Mpilo Nzimande, but also two characters played by Thomie, for whom Dracula marks his 10th naughty panto appearance.
Thomie appears as Renfield, an Igor-like narrator in stained white underwear, and also makes a cameo appearance with his delightful Indian granny, which has become a staple of the recent mini adult pantos.
Between them the cast offer a variety of songs including Welkommen from the musical Cabaret, Barcelona, Blue Train, River Deep, Mountain High, Fight Song, Oops, I Did It Again (a slowed down, saucy version by Stonier) and the fun, traditional line song, If I Were Not Upon the Stage, among others.
Good to note that there is a wine list at the venue this year (a complaint I had last year) and more effort has gone into creating a vibe. I loved the three creepy, grey tombstones in red lighting at the venue’s entrance, while large posters for the show, on the venue’s verandah, are good eye-catchers. The red runners over tableclothes on the 10 tables at the venue is also a nice touch.
Note that while there is no restriction on food being brought into this intimate venue, all liquid refreshments must be bought from the Club Altitude bar.
Tickets for Dracula cost R140 each and seating in this intimate venue is at tables of eight. To book, contact http://www.quicket.co.za or phone 064 476 8533.