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REVIEW - A Marry Little Christmas

REVIEW - A Marry Little Christmas

Last week, I had the delight of watching A Marry Little Christmas at The Market Theatre, on two separate occasions – first by myself and then with a group of close friends. This contemporary South African comedy written by The Market Theatre’s Artistic Director Greg Homann, and directed by Charmaine Weir-Smith, is refreshingly hysterical, the entire way through. The ‘dead’ brilliant ensemble forages us a seat at a very small and yet relatable (dysfunctional) family Christmas lunch, where a ginormous stuffed turkey dish is completely overshadowed by the chaotic spectacle that is spending time with family over the festive period, all while a marriage proposal is looming and seems to be close to its expiration. A riot of a festivity from the onset.

Simply put, this quick-witted show had me cackling from the very beginning to the very end (both times), while also in a flush and intrinsic manner, comedically grappled with a plethora of matters that are reflective of the impact that greater South African societal issues have on familial relationships – these include but are not in the slightest exclusive to only matters of love, race (and multiracial families/interracial relationships), sexuality, as well as the patriarchal roles that are often amplified at festive family gatherings. This way of exploring these issues is something I can appreciate, as it presents a newness in sharing how these matters are experienced in their immediacy, as opposed to just conceptually. However, in the same breath, this led me to reflect on the differences between us, both inside and outside of our family units that often, fuel the way we respond to others, to those we love and to ourselves – the extent to which we are understood and accommodated for usually drives how receptive we are to being challenged.

The difference in ages, ideology and personality between all the characters makes for an explosively funny gathering – but also one that is instantly familiar, even in our hugely multicultural country, within which Christmas celebrations tend to vary significantly at times. This almost certainly guarantees a chuckle out of just about anybody, while having you feel ‘at home’ in Arnie Hartman’s warm and yet cool-coloured house, sheltering the duality of the extremes of love and adoration as well as discomfort and conflict, that are arguably staples in both the commitments of family and marriage.

I am still fascinated by how fluidly the varied chaos ensues throughout the play – layered quarrelling, spirited dancing, momentary alliances formed (and destroyed) through laughter, capsizing dishes, confusing weather conditions, unexpected illness and some unconventional making-up and reconciliation. On both nights, I felt as if there was absolutely no way of foreshadowing what was to happen next, what kind of person was to arrive and who would steal our attention – a sentiment those around me had agreed with. This well-organized chaos was not only hilariously entertaining but also, deeply inventive in the ways it allowed us to zone in on each little part of the fire while seeing the entire household up in flames, until they are of course extinguished, in anticipation of the Christmas that is to follow – something I am sure a lot of us are familiar with. Now, going back to the ‘dead’ brilliant cast of Antony Coleman, Kim Cloete, James Borthwick, Judy Ditchfield, Louise Saint-Claire, Ilse Klink, Roberto Pombo, Zolani Shangase and Trevor Lynch – the performances were nothing short of spot on – the kind of ‘spot on’ that makes you feel like you know someone like that, and then realize that you do. The same can be said of the writing and direction – ‘dead’ brilliant.

A Marry Little Christmas can be great fun, for anyone. Its light-heartedness makes it a treat to watch.

Catch it at The Market Theatre, in the John Kani Theatre until December 24th and come prepared to chuckle and maybe even snort a little too!

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Ketsia Velaphi

Ketsia Velaphi

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REVIEW - A Marry Little Christmas

REVIEW - A Marry Little Christmas

I am still fascinated by how fluidly the varied chaos ensues throughout the play – layered quarrelling, spirited dancing, momentary alliances formed (and destroyed) through laughter, capsizing dishes, confusing weather conditions, unexpected illness and some unconventional making-up and reconciliation.

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