Stage: Family Therapy – Rhumbelow Theatre, Tina’s Hotel, Kloof (until December 24) and Northlands Bowling Club, Durban North (December 27 and 28)
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
DURBAN’S loved and most offbeat and seasoned entertainment duo, the award-winning husband and wife team of Aaron McIlroy and Lisa Bobbert, continues to pour out the madness, music and mirth with Family Therapy, one of their most entertaining shows in recent times.
The production, playfully directed and choreographed by Daisy Spencer, is currently a hot ticket – it attracted a packed, jovial opening night audience in Kloof last night (December 12) and demand is such that an extra 2pm show on December 21 has been added to the schedule to meet demand.
If you’re seeking an escape from the many woes we are enduring in this country right now, this show is just the ticket, serving a smile-a-minute load of nonsense with a mix of colourful characters and screwball situations, some audience participation, and a diverse range of songs.
The setting is a room with a couch, lamp and an easel display board, where the fun starts with the arrival of Bobbert as the whining and domineering Charmaine, in curls and sequinned, fringed frock. She sings the classic Love Story and all the while, McIlroy, as nervous and hen-pecked husband Nigel, battles to make an entrance while Charmaine constantly shoos him off stage.
When McIlroy returns after the song, wearing lederhosen, Charmaine explains that she and (a reluctant) Nigel have now turned to motivational speaking, family being the topic of discussion and the audience being the people facing the lectures by the duo and ‘special guests’.
After male audience members are roped in for a fun routine, about which I will say no more lest I spoil the fun, we are treated to a rendition of Queen’s Under Pressure, then a series of sketches, each signposted with a change of topic on the display board, which introduce new characters.
First up is Bobbert as Charmaine and Nigel’s pig-tailed, cellphone-mad, teen daughter Cher, who tells a tale of her father’s embarrassing Whatsapp posts and plots a way to manipulate his bank account. The sketch ends on a somewhat poignant note and is capped with McIlroy’s fine rendition, to backing tracks, of Billy Joel’s Vienna. As he has proved often in the past, he has a really nice voice when he sings without comic intrusion.
We also get to meet guitar-carrying Gary, the blond, laidback, surfer-dude from the Bluff, who has been invited to deliver a talk on ‘Blended Family’. He chats about everything – from hungry lions and TV’s Postman Pat, to his Indian girlfriend and a stepfather who doesn’t like him – then ends with a lyrically reworked rendition of a golden-oldie pop hit that lends itself beautifully to Gary’s story.
After interval, Aaron and Lisa appear on stage, literally joined at the hip, as Siamese twin brothers who, in their discussion of ‘Sibling Rivalry’, talk about the dilemmas of having to share everything – from a toothbrush to a mother with only one functioning breast. They end with a fun, outrageous delivery of a novelty song everyone knows, for which the audience is ordered to join in (it is so silly that I will keep the song title a surprise).
Best of the bunch, not unexpectedly, is McIlroy’s spot-on, Indian smooth-talker, VJ, who, while on the topic of ‘Boundaries’, draws howls of laughter with a convoluted, wandering discussion about a man chopping up his boat, and which ends with a truly excellent, intentionally camp delivery of Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat, from the musical Guys and Dolls.
Family Therapy ends on a more subtle, more sincere but still comic, note, with Lisa and Aaron playing older characters, the rather conservative Beatrice and her hubby, the mischievous Max. They reflect on their life, times and family, closing the show with a rendition of That’s Life that leads to the silly Superman. This novelty song, a regular finale number for the duo’s shows at the Rhumbelow, involves the audience joining in with ridiculous dance moves.
Family Therapy runs every Tuesday to Sunday at the Kloof venue, until Christmas Eve, and has performances at 8pm on December 27 and 28 at Northlands Bowing Club in Durban North. Call the Rhumbelow Theatre’s Roland Stansell at 082 499 8636 for bookings or more details.