Scene It: Fun farce at Rosebank Theatre

December 10, 2016

Rosebank Theatre presents the third in the Bulawayo Trilogy, Murdering Agatha Christie, this festive season. This time it is a murder mystery farce set in 1948. The body of A. Christie is found, or rather fallen over, in a B&B that isn't quite what it sells itself to be.


Directed by Luke Ellenbogen, with design by Kei-Ella Loewe and choreography by Claire Ellenbogen, this is definitely a fun farce to watch. The show is witty with a nice steady pace. It keeps your attention, with enough intrigue to entice.


Nicholas Ellenbogen delights with his Columbo-esque character interpretation of the detective on the case and the rest of the cast bring some moves that would make Arthur Murray smile as they manoeuvre themselves out of (and sometimes into) trouble. Here is looking at you Debi Hawkins and Gabriel Meltz, some sizzling moves indeed! The top notch cast's flair for the dramatic leaves the audience in a permanent state of giggles, which very appropriately amplifies the silliness of the over the top nature of it all. This all happens in a very skillfully designed space that actually makes the theatre look bigger than it is stage wise. Smart design that deserves applause.


Just check your CSI analytical skills at the door. My plus one for the night was so caught up in his internalised arguments of whether "that caliber pistol would result in a body falling in such a manner" that I think he missed the theatrical entertainment value completely. So open your mind, it is theatre and things are allowed and even encouraged to go a little off book, especially in a farce. Another contributing factor may also be that I suspect the humour and references used best appeals to an audience age 30 and up.


As a complete package it was a very enjoyable theatre experience for me. With some very suspect meat doing the rounds and bodies dropping around every couch and corner there is not a dull moment in this show. A proper whodunnit! Only two things about the show bugged a little (not enough not to like it, but just a little so that I wondered about it)...


The same actor, Gabriel Meltz, plays three characters: Ben, Billie (mechanic / butcher brothers) and the detective's sidekick sergeant. Yet Meltz only has two clearly distinctive 'costume' changes (glasses for one and a hat for the other), which seems to defeat the purpose of trying to emphasise the difference if the third character of the sergeant gets lost in the other two.


Also, although I loved the very eloquent presentation (ala Nicholas Ellenbogen) of the detective's nostalgic monologue of his youthful days in England, it didn't add anything to the crux of the farce for me. I rather felt it to be a stand-alone image that could be better explored elsewhere, maybe even as a separate play. Even though it made me contemplate its dramatic meaning and place in the grander scheme of the production, it did not seem to deter in any measure from the delighted audience reaction on the night.


On the plus side, I found the dynamic interaction between Tafara Nyatsanza (the apparently easily distracted medical student) and Kanya Viljoen (the pampered lady with mommy issues) very amusing. Liz Szymczak 's interpretation of her multiple characters also left me comically fascinated. I loved seeing her on stage.


Go see the fun farce Murdering Agatha Christie at the intimate and inviting Rosebank Theatre before the run ends 31 December 2016. Grab your tickets online via Webtickets.



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