All Pleased With ‘Bob Daniels’ [opinion]

Comedy can be some tricky business. The audience can be a little bewildered by the fact that sometimes they are called upon to be a part of the action.

The material can be far less funny than it seemed in one particularly riotous rehearsal. And, if you’re really unlucky, not a single soul will show up to your first play at the National Theatre of Namibia and the tittering will be left to a lone and surly moderator glowering grimly in the back.

First time NTN theatre writer and director Victoria Naholo had not a lick of these problems. In fact, ‘There’s Just No Pleasing Daniels’ premiered so loud and full of laughter at the theatre’s backstage last week that it is hard to believe that this is her first crack at the city’s big leagues.

Fun, funny and with a comedic cast that never missed a beat, the young director’s play opened to a highly entertained and enthusiastic audience all impressed by the show’s efficient single set, the manner in which some were included as restaurant goers and unwitting extras in the action and, of course, by Naholo’s local, lekker and clever comedic writing that shone from start to finish.

Benefiting most from the super script was actor Morne Botha, who played the nit-picking, neurotic and peanut-appraising Bob Daniels with inspired facial expressions and odd observations that left the audience cackling.

Striking an easy balance between being adorable and endlessly annoying, Botha’s title character was as funny and poignant as the role required while leading a cool cast of oddballs, including Hazel Hinda of South African soapie ‘7de Laan’ who played Damara-fabulous restaurant owner Tangi with all the aplomb one would expect of the superstar.

Lending side-splitting support to the leads were Hazel !Garus, Oswin Muinjo and Anathi Hans who played Bob’s exasperated friends Beauty, Trevor and Amani. !Garus played dim and darling easily. Muinjo, as her guitar-playing beau, was understated and could always be counted on when it came to hilarious reaction expressions, and Hans played sangoma in training with great talent and timing and was a boon to Naholo’s already excellent cast.

Minor characters Esraa Elmaraldy, as Linda, and Michelle Namises, as the woman who almost steals Bob’s heart, were equally adept and Elmaraldy must be praised for her ditzy but amusing cameos, which always seemed on the brink of erupting into giggles.

In terms of the story, the whole thing takes place at ‘The Culture’, a restaurant that hosts open mic nights and is a hangout for Bob and his friends. The restaurant is owned by Bob’s aunt Tangi who is desperate for her nephew to meet someone special but is at her wit’s end as Bob finds fault with every woman who he blind dates.

The stories Bob tells about his dates are hilarious, the instance in which he actually has a blind date at The Culture’ is good fun and just as Bob really gets creepy about peanuts and we’re wondering where it’s all going, Naholo takes a hold of her script and introduces the tragedy.

A deceased mother who would always say ‘only the best nuts for my boy’ in the rare times they spent together when she wasn’t working to support him.

Boasting an elegant reveal, a wonderful cast and lovely local story that gets to where it’s going with humour, thought and skill, ‘There’s Just No Pleasing Bob Daniels’ is well worth praise and is an exciting debut for comedic writer and pleasing playwright Victoria Naholo.

Source : The Namibian