Stage: Shika-Land – Rhumbelow Theatre, Cunningham Road, Umbilo, Durban
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
FORMER Durban actress Shika Budhoo, now based in Johannesburg, has had a lot of mileage out of Shika-Land, a one-woman show that was written and first performed by her some years ago at Durban’s much-missed Musho! Festival, highlighting solo works.
After that festival, held at the now-defunct Catalina Theatre on Wilson’s Wharf, Shika-Land went on to be staged at The National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, The I Heart Durban Theatre Festival as well as the South African Women’s Arts Festival, PopART in Johannesburg and various private and corporate functions.
I had not ever managed to attend a performance, so I was delighted to finally see Shika-Land this evening at the first of three planned performances at Durban’s Umbilo Rhumbelow Theatre, where final shows are scheduled for 8pm on Saturday (June 29) and 2pm on Sunday (June 30).
Sadly, the one-act play attracted a small audience tonight, but those who attended were amply rewarded with a sterling performance from a versatile and captivating performer with chutzpah, a sweet and pure singing voice and a versatility that extends to a variety of spot-on accents.
Shika-Land arose from Shika trying to find the origin and meaning of her unusual first name by turning to Google. She subsequently uncovered a variety of interesting information, including that her name means “deer” in Japanese.
The exercise led to the idea of creating a show in which she plays five very different woman with the same name, each of them in a slice-of-life situation revolving around matters of the heart.
Shika first arrives as herself on a stage edged with colourful decorations and paper flowers, then to morph into each new character, she disappears behind a suspended white sheet to be silhouetted for costume changes that see her performing a cappela – songs including Jason Mraz’s I’m Yours, Corinne Bailey Rae’s Put Your Records On and Michael Buble’s Haven’t Met You Yet.
Her first character is excellent, richly nuanced, by turns amusing and poignant – a Jamaican mother of three with a large Afro hairdo and a no-nonsense attitude. She is a beguiling individual who chats about her three children and the lost husband she sorely misses, all the time rolling and smoking a joint.
Then, after a wig and costume change behind that sheet, we meet Shika the Parisienne, a slightly kooky woman in pink, fluffy slippers and nightgown. She sits at a small table writing letter after letter in an attempt to find the best way of telling her boyfriend she wants to break up with him. .She’s amusing, although the sketch goes on just a little too long.
I loved feisty Shika, the London beautician, who drops F-bombs and applies make-up while relating the story of an over-amorous client who ended up pinning her to a wall.
Also great value is the final character – Shika from India, who, while changing into a colourful sari on stage, chats about her pending arranged marriage to an important car salesman from Reservoir Hills.
Budhoo is a confident and charming performer and Shika-Land is a delight that is well worth a visit, running about an hour with no interval. I’m so glad I finally got to see it.
Tickets cost R150 each for the final performances (R130 for pensioners and students) and booking is at Computicket or by calling Roland Stansell at 082 499 8636.