A world of pure imagination

Mpilo ‘Straw’ Nzimande and eager young volunteers in a scene from Grandpa Grump and the Magical Junkshop.

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Stage: Grandpa Grump and the Magical Junk Shop – Rhumbelow Theatre, Cunningham Road, Umbilo, Durban
(Performed at 11am daily until Friday, October 5)
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
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A BICYCLE wheel that doubles as the sun. A broomstick and green flippers that turn into a dragon. A hot-air balloon ride and a parachute jump into a forest. A dirtbin monster that devours litter. A glittering goldfish in a battle with large false teeth.

All the above, and so much more, come into play in the inspired, giddy romp that is Grandpa Grump and the Magical Junk Shop, a 55-minute production for children written by award-winning Durban playwright and actor Neil Coppen.

It is performed by the lanky, agile and expressive Mpilo “Straw” Nzimande, under the playful direction of Bryan Hiles, and is presented on the auditorium floor space of the recently revamped Rhumbelow Theatre in Umbilo.

Colourful props – everything from socks, an umbrella and beachballs to green featherdusters, a lampshade, a chair and a large washing basket – fill the performance space, in front of which are chairs and scattered cushions, should the little ones in the audience prefer to enjoy the show from floor level.

Grandpa Grump, with his curly, grey mop of hair, arrives to loud applause to announce that his magic shop is closed. He also announces that he has lost his spectacles, his teeth and his imagination. He is becoming increasingly grumpy as he becomes increasingly forgetful in his old age, he adds.

Mpilo ‘Straw’ Nzimande in Grandpa Grump and the Magical Junkshop.

He hasn’t forgotten, however, that his precious granddaughter, Lucy, is soon to celebrate her sixth birthday. But Grandpa Grump is upset that he cannot find Molly, the ragdoll he was saving in his shop to give to Lucy as a birthday gift.

Molly has disappeared from her usual place on a store shelf, but Grandpa Grump is determined to find her and bring her back.

So he sets out on an adventure with the help of the audience and some clues from characters he builds on stage and into which he breathes life – among them a dodgy-eyed Cuckoo in a Cuckoo Clock, a Smelly Sock Snake and a green and pink Dirtbin Monster.

A highllight of the show – a clever, well-paced entertainment that fully involves its audience, plays on rhyme and even throws in some rap – has Grandpa becoming Supergrump. For this he throws on a tablecloth cape, ‘helmet’ and the superhero staple of underwear on the outside.

Other standout moments are a song about a washing-machine, complete with actions, which the audience is taught; and the antics of a dragon with a long tongue that swoops over the audience

Running at 11am daily, only until Friday (October 5), the show is followed by a colouring-in competition for the youngsters. It truly is a treat for the little ones, many of whom at today’s performance were happy to loudly air opinions and lend eager support in the call for participation by the charming Nzimande.

Tickets cost R60 at the door, where snacks are on sale. To book, or for more details, phone Roland Stansell at 082 499 8636.

Another scene from Grandpa Grump and The Magical Junkshop, written by Neil Coppen.

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