Sax and the single woman

2011-09-05 00:00

I LAST saw Barbara-Anne Puren perform over 24 years ago when she was a young drama student.

Her talent was very noticeable then, but she has grown into a successful, focused and professional performer. Her first one-woman show Casual Sax, which moves to Sibaya this week, is delightfully humorous and engaging.

She takes her audiences on a journey through her relationships over the years, calling the process “From day-dreaming to divorce to dating”.

On a stage that is bare except for a chair and a modesty screen on which is draped a white feather boa, she takes a satirical look at fairytales and so-called happy endings. From growing up on the “wild, wild Bluff” to Internet dating, she relates her tale with a sardonic humour, softening the barbs with a cheeky grin.

Her script often becomes sexually explicit, which is why the show is not recommended for persons under the age of 16. However, she handles these moments with wit and panache and what could become tacky in less skilful hands is presented as sophisticated adult humour, to which the audience responds with spontaneous chuckles.

At the age of 32, after her failed marriage, she took up the saxophone and this gleaming instrument provides a perfect visual accompaniment to her quirky yet elegant black dress and white culottes suit.

She occasionally puts the sax on its stand so that she can move freely and at one stage handles a provocative costume change behind the screen, saxophone and all!

Accompanied by lush orchestral backing tracks, she sings a line-up of much-loved jazz classics such as Summertime, Cry Me a River, Fever, My Baby Just Cares for Me and Big Spender, alongside well-chosen quieter numbers like When I Give my Heart, Cold Cold Heart and Someone to Watch over Me.

She engages with the audience without losing any of the show’s stylish nature.

Even the head massage she gives a volunteer has its own appeal and becomes a performance moment. Grant Knottenbelt’s lighting design is excellent and the sound balance is good.

Casual Sax is at the iZulu Theatre, Sibaya, on September 9 and 10 at 8 pm. Tickets R120 at Computicket.

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