‘Civil Parting’ is about two gay men going through a divorce, but all audiences can identify with it inthe
WHEN Nicholas Spagnoletti’s play Civil Parting was first staged in September at Alexander Upstairs, it had an almost rapturous reception, and now it’s back for another season from Tuesday to November 16.
Although the play is about two gay men going through a divorce, it has been embraced by all audiences. It stars Pieter Bosch Botha and Shaun Acker and is directed by Zanne Solomon.
Spagnoletti is known for his hit London Road, about an elderly Jewish woman and a young Nigerian man. The play wowed audiences at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festi- val and actress Robyn Scott won the Fringe best actress award.
It doesn’t matter that the characters in Civil Parting are gay. We can easily identify with the quirks and attachments that pull us together and push us apart. Set in a lawyer’s waiting room, it is one of the most entertaining plays I have seen this year. The set and costumes are fabulous.
Was Spagnoletti surprised by the response? “It’s about the unravelling of a gay relationship, but the same sorts of things happen in all break-ups, gay or straight. People have come up to me after the play and said things like, ‘Did you have a tape-recorder in my house?’ It’s the details of the relationship stuff that people recognise, whether in their own relationships, their friends’ or their parents’. Happy couples also find it familiar. Many of the things that come to a head in the settlement of the relationship are things that crop up all along – a friend who is closer to one person in the couple than the other; differences in income, vocation; choices of holiday destination; going out or staying in; whether to have kids; where and how to live. These are all negotiated in all relationships. As people change, shifts and tensions inevitably arise and things need to be renegotiated or fought about. These things are universal.”
As for the humour, he says: “I knew it would be entertaining with this team bringing it to life, but it turned out much funnier than we anticipated. I try to write that which I enjoy watching, which is theatre that is moving and credible but also enjoyable to watch.
“So, I did plan for the heavier moments to be balanced by the humour, but it took us quite by surprise when we realised that the audience laughter added a full five minutes on to the running time. It is a comedy but it is not trivial or frivolous. People respond well when something is entertaining but also meaningful and makes them think about their own lives.”
● Civil Parting is on daily (excluding Sundays) from Tuesday to November 16 at 7pm, with 9pm shows on Fridays. To book, see http://shows.alexanderbar.co.za or call 021 300 1652. Tickets are R90 online or R100 by phone.
CLOSER, the acclaimed play by Patrick Marber about the twisted mish-mash of relationships among four people, is being staged by the Instant Arts Collective and Jon Keevy at the Intimate, Hiddingh Campus, from Tuesday to November 23, with Electra Nathania, Wessel Pretorius, Lesoko Seabe and Albert Pretorius. It is directed by award-winning director Kim Kerfoot and Keevy has done the design.
The play was first staged in 1997 in the UK and Marber then adapted it for the 2004 film of the same name. The film was directed by Mike Nichols, and starred Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman, Jude Law and Clive Owen.
Keevy says it is the first time that the play is being professionally staged in Cape Town.
“Each of the characters goes on a different path, some more tragic than others. Some learn things, some don’t. It can’t be summed up in an easy message,” says Kerfoot.
“Closer, like life, is messy and open to interpretation, and I suspect that what the audience takes away from it will largely depend on the baggage they arrived with.”
ENTERTAINING AND MEANINGFUL: Pieter Bosch Botha and Shaun Acker star in
which is set in a lawyer’s waiting room.
MISH-MASH: Albert Pretorius and Lesoko Seabe in