Simon was at it again yesterday. Interesting for me is how many of the  pieces he talks about I have already seen and reviewed. I’m just saying!

Saturday June 26 – day 7 of the Festival.     Nearly halfway there.    Grahamstown is much much fuller – parking is a problem now and the informal parking attendants scurry around squashing potential tips into every conceivable space.    The queues outside shows are longer.  Haven’t been to the markets yet or heard how the traders are doing – in fact the only comment I have heard is the age old complaint that there is nothing much new to be had at the markets – same old, same old.   The soccer World Cup is muted – the bars and cafes have soccer on the screens although one I frequented yesterday remained faithful to the rugby players and was showing the SA v Italy match in East London.   Flags on cars abound but vuvuzelas are not that strident.    But the talk at the venues is about theatre and not sport.

“LONDON ROAD” is flying – the last 2 days have been effectively sold out by the time the doors close and man are people talking about it.   Standing ovations and words like “amazing”, “extraordinary” and “exceptional” are the words used by people coming out of the shows.   Robyn, Ntombi and Lara have done an incredible job with this show – they rock and “LONDON ROAD” rules OK !!!!

5 shows yesterday, starting with an old friend, Gaetan Schmid’s “RUMPSTEAK” – one of our party had never seen it so the rest of us re-visited it.    Gaetan was on top of his game and it was tremendous.   In case there is someone out there who hasn’t seen this show, it depicts the behind the scenes happenings at a French restaurant using something like 800 sound cues and few words from Gaetan.   James Webb, the sound designer, has strung together an incredible array of sounds and it is up to Gaetan, performing on a 1m square area, to time his performance to the cues.    Good audience numbers and a fantastic reception.   Chrissie who had not seen the show was captivated.

I followed this by doing an interview on Algoa FM and then saw “DECADENCE” with Scott Sparrow and Emily Child directed by Chris Weare.    Raunchy, raw, a little shocking but great theatre.   Depicting the lives of 2 couples, one very upper class and rich and corrupt and, well, decadent – not married but having an affair – and the other lower middle class – the woman being married to the upper class gent and wanting to shaft him good and proper for deserting her but at the same time conducting an affair with the “private dick” [innuendo!!] she has hired to get the goods on her husband and well, actually, get rid of him.    They too are not above behaving badly.   Spoken for most of time in rhyming couplets, the pace is “Usain Bolt” fast and never flags.   If you are squeamish about language then stay at home and order a pizza but if not try and see this one.    The after theatre dining scene and the hunting scene are worth looking out for, the latter being laden with sexual tension as Emily rides the horse that is Scott in pursuit of the fox.

Then on to “BOSMAN’S VELD MAIDEN” with Barbie Meyer.   As far as I know, Barbie is the only woman who has taken Herman Charles on.    I saw a show of hers about 2 years ago and that was pure Bosman retold in Barbie’s style.    She had a following then and on the evidence of last evening, she still has.    I felt that this show was not as good as the last one I saw and I fear that at least 2 of the stories told are not stories written by Bosman but maybe based on articles he wrote.    I didn’t enjoy this show as much as the last one but I am in a minority that’s for sure.

Down to the Library Hall to share James Cairns’ latest offering “DIRT” with a packed audience.   Cue wrote the other day something like “Cairns is so good at what he does that it is ridiculous”.    Yes !!!!  Written by Nick Warren and directed Jenine Collocott, “DIRT” on the face of it traces the journey of 3 friends to Cape Town for the funeral of a fourth.   Their aspirations, problems and faults are laid bare by Cairns in what is a tour de force of a performance.    Cairns plays about 7 or 8 characters, the guys who are on the trip, and those they meet on the way.   Oh, and Tom the dog – his is an important part [serious].   Its funny, it’s clever and it allows one of South Africa’s leading exponents of the thespian art to strut his stuff.   James’s lady was at the show last night and she commented to me beforehand “its good” – she was wrong, it’s more than good.   If this one comes anywhere near you, kill to get a tickets [and you might have to].

And so with weary legs and tired feet, we repaired back to the Princess Alice to see “I CLAUDIA” with Susan Danford directed by Lara Bye.    Chronicling a period in the life of pre-teen coping with changes in her and her parent’s divorce and using masks and slick costume changes to great effect, “I CLAUDIA” is another tremendous piece of theatre.    The 4 characters who inhabit the play are all slightly unusual but Danford switches effortlessly between Claudia [a 13 year old girl], a caretaker at her school from Bolgonia [where ??], Claudia’s grandfather and the ghastly step-mother to be, Leslie.   Rightly acclaimed by the audience last night, Susan Danford ranks up there with the best and “I CLAUDIA” reflects that.

So a good day.  We are now at that stage where you shake the rest of your Festival programme and see what falls out and replace that with what the street tells you to see.    That’s the first job today, Sunday.

Not a bad daily pickings Simon!