Last night I had the privilege of spending time with family and good friends and watching fabulous South African talent on stage at the Auto and General Theatre on the Square at Sandton. All I knew about the show before the lights dimmed was that there would be dancing, I never explored what I was going to be watching beforehand and I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised and very charmed. Last night’s show was dedicated to the late Joan Brickhill, a fitting memorial
The show is about an elderly woman, Lily, played by Judy Ditchfield, who hires a dance instructor, Michael, played by Jose Domingos, to teach her to dance over a period of six weeks. What starts as an oil and water match filled with barbed antagonism evolves into a deep and meaningful friendship between two people whom life has done a good job of trampling all over.
Neither one of the two characters are easy people to get along with, both having enough emotional baggage to start a wagon train. The tale unfolds at a graceful pace over the six dance lessons, with an entire host of wonderfully sarcastic lines which Judy and Jose deliver with perfect timing. None of which I am ashamed to say I can remember, I will have to go see the show again with pencil in hand.
It is patently obvious that Jose and Judy are very comfortable working together on stage. I am no dancer so I cannot even begin to comment on whether either of our stars are good dancers but I am not embarrassed to say that I was swept away with them when they danced across the stage, clearly, both thoroughly enjoying the roles that they were playing. The music is a wonderful mix of dance music, the most contemporary of which is The Beach Boys so please don’t go see this show expecting to hear Emenem and Santana; just allow yourself to be enchanted by Ella Fitzgerald instead.
What I found so remarkable about this show is the sheer range of human issues that it manages to tackle in a light and entertaining way through the medium of wit and dance without leaving the audience feeling like they have been put through an emotional mangle. Nothing is sacred and the topics that get tackled are everything from bigotry, homophobia, old age to loss and suffering. I promise you I have only mentioned a few of them but you are so caught up in the unfolding tale of a growing deepening friendship with the bond of trust, that you only realize the subjects that have been handled, sometimes not so delicately, when you sit down to coffee and cake after the show.
I loved it, Judy though not an old woman manages to convince you she is an elderly lonely woman with deep scars, the most incredible dress sense and some really beautiful dresses and Jose struts his gay dance instructor stuff with just the right amount of camp and the perfect amount of wounded humanity. He also has a very nice butt which I noticed more than once!
This show is a combination of fantastic lines, music, dance, laughs and human frailty and I loved every minute. Definitely worth watching so do yourself a favour and see it before it closes on the 9th of Feb.