A hilarious and unique adult play that is not to be missed

2013-09-11 00:00

ONE of the funniest and most unique productions I have been lucky enough to see this year is The Epicene Butcher and Other Stories for Consenting Adults, which is being staged at The Witness Hilton Arts Festival this weekend.

The play, which received the Musho International Festival of One and Two-Hander Theatre judges’ award for best original script in Durban earlier this year, is written by Gwydin Beynon and Jemma Kahn, who also shares the stage with Klara van Wyk as the Chalk Girl.

Kahn uses the 12th-century-old art of Japanese storytelling to tell tales with themes ranging from heaven and hell to pornography, gothic tragedy and the dream life of cats. There are seven stories in all, including one about Buddha and a selfish businessman, another about a sexy encounter in a hotel room, the title story, The Epicene Butcher, about an expert butcher who travels the world to find the perfect cut of meat for his emperor, a story about Nelson Mandela told in Japanese and Mario’s Lament, based on the iconic Mario Brothers computer game.

Most of the stories are laugh-out-loud hilarious, but one is deeply poignant and concerns the devastation caused in Japan by the 2011 tsunami.

Kahn is a master storyteller, whose stage presence welcomes the audience. Her sidekick, the Chalk Girl, is a genius creation whose purpose is to write rude messages on a blackboard.

Literally translated, Kamishibai means “paper play”. It originated as a form of children’s street theatre in the thirties. Storytellers would travel from village to village on bicycles, telling stories with the use of illustrated paper panels that slid out of a specially crafted wooden stage.

Kahn studied Kamishibai under the veteran performer Roukda Genji, with whom she travelled and performed extensively throughout Japan.

The Epicene Butcher and Other Stories for Consenting Adults can be seen at the festival’s newest venue, the Black Coffee Stage at 6.30 pm on Friday, 1.15 pm on Saturday and 1.30 pm on Sunday.

Tickets cost R120. Please note: there is a “no under 16s” rating for this play. To book, visit www.hiltonfestival.co.za

• The Erl King: A stunning one-man show by Marc Kay, which can be seen at 5 pm on Saturday and 10 am on Sunday. This Gothic horror story is adapted from a short story by John Connolly, and uses puppetry to tell the story of David, a young boy who is confronted by a horrific creature as old as the woods themselves. Tickets cost R75.

• Digby and the Lullaby: This indie folk duo will share songs of love, life and promise in this 70-minute long show. See it at 8 pm on Friday and 8.30 pm on Saturday. Tickets cost R90.

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