Life can leave us all feeling a bit jaded, and sometimes (depending on your level of cynicism at any given time) a rom-com that tries to convince you that everything is heart-shaped clouds and candyfloss-coated days just leaves you even more doubtful that cupid is a reality in any shape or form. That makes Happy New Year (A Play With Songs), currently onstage at the Fugard Theatre, a refreshing breath of Cape Town creative-air, as it is a rom-com with a sense of realism: The characters don’t have it all together, they aren’t chasing the ungettable-girl/guy, and they're beautiful flawed (and therefore perfectly relatable) to everyone in one way or another.
Happy New Year (A Play With Songs), based on the original play Midsummer (A Play With Songs) by David Greig, has been adapted to a lovely Cape Town settings by David Kramer. Renowned UK director, Nicolas Kent, has done an exceptional job with the staging of Happy New Year, finding a way to tap into Cape Town’s energy with this quirky rom-com, and through the comedy find real heart and even a subtle touch of social commentary (if you want to look deeper than just a fun night out at the theatre, which sometimes is okay too).
The set design by Chris Pienaar lends itself well to being the canvas for the exquisite illustrations by Lucie de Moyencourt. Aided by De Moyencourt's sketches, both the characters and the audience take a walk through Cape Town with even the iconic ‘Cape Doctor’ blowing through the montage of memorable local spots.
It is through these sketched-streets of Cape Town that Dan (Dean Balie) and Lee-André (Bianca Flanders) find each other —there chance meeting playing into the saying that you find love in the most unexpected places and when you're not really looking for it. Because neither of them are perfect —not Lee-André as the world-weary divorce lawyer stuck in ‘relationship’ hell, nor Dan as the ‘legit’ car salesman longing for his younger years when he was the man everyone wanted to be or know— you find the characters even more endearing.
Seeing Flanders and Balie onstage together makes Happy New Year a lovely theatre experience. They're perfectly in harmony with their comedic timing, dramatic style and vocal delivery, with each beautifully playing off the other with charm and just the right degree of magnetism to make you invest in the journey of their characters. If the Fugard Theatre records and releases the tracks to Happy New Year, I will be first in line to purchase my copy, because, where Balie and Flander’s voices meet, magic happens.
You can see Happy New Year (A Play With Songs) onstage at the Fugard Theatre in their intimate Studio Theatre until 16 March 2019. Book your tickets online at www.thefugard.com.