Cape Argus - - Tonight - ORIELLE BERRY

MARC Lot­ter­ing spoke to us about

Aunty Merle, The Mu­si­cal, which comes to The Bax­ter at the end of next month.

When did you cre­ate Aunty Merle?

Aunty Merle was cre­ated in 1997.

Has she changed much?

Not a bit. If any­thing, she’s look­ing slightly smarter these days. Her hus­band’s plumb­ing busi­ness is thriv­ing, you know.

What makes her spe­cial?

She be­lieves she has been put on Earth to bring sun­shine into the lives of oth­ers.

What can au­di­ences ex­pect in the show?

Au­di­ences will be thor­oughly en­ter­tained. Aunty Merle’s daugh­ter is get­ting mar­ried to “a de­cent white chap”. Merle will stop at noth­ing to en­sure that the wed­ding runs smoothly.

Are you look­ing at your­self in the al­ter egos you cre­ate?

I like to base my char­ac­ters on real peo­ple, so I peo­ple-watch for many hours. I also en­joy eaves­drop­ping. Real life is so en­ter­tain­ing.

Dur­ing your shows, do you try make peo­ple ex­am­ine them­selves or for­get about life, or both?

Happy peo­ple are beau­ti­ful peo­ple. There’s noth­ing more re­ward­ing than the sound of rau­cous laugh­ter in a packed theatre. And right now in South Africa, we need to laugh or we’ll go in­sane with sad­ness.

You have a melt­ing pot of cul­tures in Aunty Merle. Tell us more about the char­ac­ters.

The au­di­ence will meet Merle’s hus­band, Den­nis, who still gets that “wilde­beest” look in his eyes when he sees his wife. Merle’s neigh­bour, So­raya, is con­stantly com­pet­ing with Merle. So­raya is also al­ways up to date with the lat­est skin­ner in Athlone. And then there are the Bantry Bay par­ents to the fu­ture son-in-law.

Tell us more about your long-stand­ing and fruit­ful re­la­tion­ship with Alas­tair Izo­bell?

I met Alis­tair some years back and worked along­side him in a David Kramer mu­si­cal, Some Like

It Vrot. I have asked Alis­tair to mu­si­cally direct Aunty Merle, The

Mu­si­cal. We are of­ten on the same page.

What makes you laugh and what makes you weep?

I laugh at strange things. Just to­day the lady in the queue next to me wore pan­ti­hose with san­dals, which made me gig­gle. I don’t really weep. I sigh of­ten, like when I see the name “Gupta’. But I quickly get on with try­ing to live a good life.

Any­thing else you want to say about the show?

There are knee-highs. Row A might see them. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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