Playing a role ‘out of character’

Natasha Futeran as Elizabeth Barrett, right, looks unimpressed at a kiss from her domineering father Edward Moulton-Barrett, played by Dennis Bennyworth, left, in The Barretts of Wimpole Street at the Masque from tomorrow, Friday July 22. Shed much rather have a lick from her pet dog Flush, far right.

Dennis Benneyworth, retired chairman of the Cape Amateur Dramatic Society (CATA), makes a welcome return to the stage in another “Big Daddy” type role. In 2014 it was in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and from tomorrow, Friday July 22 it will be in the Fish Hoek Dramatic Society’s Masque production of The Barrett’s of Wimpole Street, both directed by Barrie Howard. There he plays the domineering Victorian patriarch Edward Moulton-Barrett who terrorised his 12 children.
To look the part, Dennis has grown white whiskers and beard for what, he says, might be his last role as he’s deep in his seventies. But listening to him delivering some heavy-handed lines as he bullies his daughters, I don’t think he’ll let age get in the way of another “meaty” role.
He doesn’t like his character who banishes one daughter for seeing a man alone in the house and does his best to stop Elizabeth from marrying fellow poet Robert Browning. The fact that Edward admits that only she was conceived in love makes you wonder how her 11 younger siblings came into the world. Could his own behaviour towards the late Mrs Barrett be the reason for over-protecting his daughters? Or is there something more sinister about keeping them to himself? Good material here for a psychological study, don’t you think?
Fortunately for history and poetry, Edward met his match in Robert Browning. He encouraged Elizabeth to walk after a riding accident when she was 15 and enjoy life before they eloped to Italy.
Elizabeth will be played by Natasha Futeran, a former Waterfront Theatre School graduate who last acted in the Cape 12 years ago. In 2015 she appeared in Four Chairs, written and directed for the Masque Foyer by Wayne Ronne, her future Robert Browning. By happy coincidence the two were cast opposite each other and they are enjoying the intricacies of bringing their challenging love story to life.
The show stealer might turn out to be Elizabeth’s trusty companion, Flush, a golden Cocker Spaniel. This former stray found wandering the streets of Durbanville was taken to the SPCA where it was spotted by Jane Philbrick and husband Aubrey Hindle, both involved in the production. They have adopted him and named him Oliver Philbrick-Hindle. Surprisingly his cruel master of the house Edward Moulton-Barrett allows him to sit on the furniture with Elizabeth.
To book at the Masque Theatre, call 021 788 1898

Takes the ‘biscuit’ out of the mouth
I call her “My Biscuit Lady” but her real name is Michelle. As our brief friendship is dependent on red traffic lights on Tokai Road from the M3 off-ramp, I have never found out her surname. But I know that she buys her biscuits in bulk and separates them into little packets which she sells for R15. She needs to earn at least R200 a day to buy the basics listed on a white board beside her chair and sunshade/ umbrella. Food, clothes, nappies.
The other day when I saw a tanned pair of youthful masculine legs sprawled on the grassy verve beside her, I assumed it was a teenaged son. Days later I got the chance to ask her if he was keeping her company during the hols.
“Yes,” she said, “Because I was robbed. “Robbed?” I repeated. It didn’t seem possible when she is sitting in broad daylight on the corner of a busy road.
“Some young boys came and stole my money. My son knows them so he’s sitting with me. I don’t think they’ll come again.”
A mean act like that just takes the biscuit.

To cut a long
story short
Sometimes it’s the little issues which define people’s feelings about the big issues.
Soon after the result of the UK referendum sparked off David Cameron’s resignation, the back-stabbing of Boris Johnson and in-fighting around Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, we emailed Dov Fedler’s brilliant cartoon to a “swallow” friend in England to cheer him up.
Fedler’s drawing in the Cape Times depicted the anxious face of Queen Elizabeth’s on Britannia using her trident as a paddle to keep Britain ruling the waves in rough seas. “Thank you Mister Cameron” she says “just what we needed – another Annus Horribilis”.
Our friend’s response was interesting. As well as reservations about the European Economic Community (renamed the European Community) because many member citizens did not pay tax as a matter of “common sense”, (confirmed by his sister who lives in Portugal), hence no money for hospitals or welfare, it was the time the over-paid EC Commissioners spent making “silly rules” that really got under his nose.
“For example I bought a new rotary mower and found it would not cut the grass lower than 1.5 inches (under 4cm). I was told by the manufacturer that this was the lowest cut permitted by bureaucratic Brussels.”
Although our friend was a loser by voting with his head to stay in the European Union, he stands to be a winner in the end. By the time he buys another mower for his huge garden, hopefully it might be a mower that can cut his lawn really short.

May day
Editors of newspapers must be delighted that the UK’s new prime minister is called Theresa May. May is not only so short and simple that it can be put into a headline in the biggest type without a headache. It also lends itself to a bit of punning by a bright sub-editor. “May may do…” “It’s May’s day again…” “May may refuse” … “May leaves in June”… “ May may go” – even “May may not go.”

Go get a bite
Spotted in a restaurant window: “Don’t stand there and be hungry; come on in and get fed up.” Sound advice.