Champ: Artscape Spring Drama SeasonClifford Graham
Clifford Graham: The physical antics performed by the three bears would leave Goldilocks astounded.
The second play in this year’s Artscape Spring Drama Season, Champ, by Louis Viljoen, is fraught with danger. Not only does it poke fun at our esteemed Drama Schools, it points fingers at those corporate bodies who would exploit young graduates in the guise of providing gainful employment. Add to this already dangerous mix, explicit language seldom heard outside of a Quentin Tarantino film. However the choice of language is not out of place and indeed, seems wholly appropriate.
Three young drama school graduates; Stanley, Melvin and Elliot team up with Waldo, a director of children’s theatre, to entertain children in a local shopping mall. There they are harangued by the children and management alike. Taking stock of their situation becomes all important, leading to bizarre situations getting out of control. Any actor, who has ever worn any sort of animal costume for a performance will know the feeling of exploitation they endure for the sake of a pay cheque.
Greg Karvellas has moulded a fast paced and extremely funny script into a production worthy of a great deal of praise. His strong cast, Darren Araujo, Mark Elderkin, Nicholas Pauling, Adam Neill and Kerstin Francis, all have a good grasp of the required energy and pacing of the text. Subtle sub textual moments are not ignored and energy is sustained throughout. The physical antics performed by the three bears would leave Goldilocks astounded. Clearly these actors have eaten their porridge in preparation. Frantic phone calls to agents and pleas to their director and the mall management are to no avail. Their choices are stunted as their lives are made a misery by a child named Rodney, described at one point as “Rosemary’s Baby”.
I suppose there is a social commentary in all this, should one choose to find it. I was too busy laughing to try to find any deep meanings in this very entertaining play. The Artscape New Writing Programme has done well to select Champ for staging. It’s a piece that will find another stage somewhere in the not too distant future. Perhaps even a filmed version for television should not be ruled out?
Should you ever come across a child named Rodney, be afraid, be very afraid …
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