Theatre explores the uncertainty of love

NORMAN MCFARLANE

The first time I encountered Alan Committie was way back in 2003 (more or less), when he did a stand-up comedy routine at a Cape Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry AGM, at the Cape Sun.

Imagine if you will, a bunch of dour business people (of which I was one), with little inclination toward levity, during an intentionally formal event, being hectored by a stand-up comedian who has boundless energy and a clear determination to make his audience laugh, no matter what, and you have a measure of what transpired.

He did get to make the audience loosen up and laugh, but it took all of his comedic skills, aided and abetted by his purposeful audience engagement.

Now 13 years down the track, his craft is refined, and if anything, his energy levels are even greater.

From the man who took Rob Becker’s hilarious Defending the Caveman (popularised by Tim Plewman), and put on it his own very personal stamp, comes a masterpiece of comedy timing that attempts to explain the illogicality of love and the crazy things that it makes us all do.

Love Factually, now playing at Theatre on the Bay, is Alan’s latest one-man show – that takes the notion of love, grabs it by the scruff of the neck, and gives it a really good shake.

The result is a roller-coaster ride of mirth, mixed up with personal emotions (many of his anecdotes struck a chord with my own experiences negotiating the reefs and shoals of romance), and remarkably insightful observations about the human condition that is less well understood – and less certain – than any other.

It is easy to imagine as the show commences with a series of clips from popular romantic movies – Lady and the Tramp, Four Weddings and a Funeral and The English Patient among others – that Alan is a committed cynic, but as you follow his personal journey, peppered with text message interactions with his beloved, it becomes evident that love cannot exist in a climate of cynicism.

They are mutually exclusive, and while it is understandable that at the time of romantic calamity, cynicism may well trump the pursuit of that special person, it is but a hiatus which will pass, as the yearning to find Mr or Ms Right is sparked anew by a word or a gesture or a glance.

His audience interaction is hilarious, fostered by his unerring ability to read the target of each sally, and to extract the very best out of those who choose to, in effect, become part of the show for those few moments, and to gracefully move on when his come-on is rebuffed by silence or shyness.

After the show, I asked him how much of the show is tightly scripted, and how much he makes up as he goes along during his frequent audience interaction, and he said that 90 to 95 percent of the show is tightly scripted.

“The balance emerges during interactions with the audience, and if something comes along that works really well, I’ll include it in future performances,” he said.

It’s worth going to see him again, just to see how the show evolves over time, and I might just do that.

Aside from his hilarious anecdotes and remarkably insightful observations about the utter uncertainty of the romantic project, you’ll also lean a whole new vocabulary of love – words like “masturdating”, “textpectation” and “guylemma” – to name a few, and if for no other reason, it is worth going to see the show, to find out what they mean.

The show is two hours of manic hilarity, interspersed with the customary 20 minute intermission.

Alan designed the delightful set himself, and John Vlismas project managed its construction and also curated the series of video sequences that intersperse the show, while Alan was ably directed Chris Weare.

The show runs until Saturday May 14, at Theatre on the Bay. Tickets are available at Computicket or at the theatre’s box office on 021 438 3300.

Ticket prices range for R100 to R180 depending on where you sit, and what day of the week for which you book.

Highly recommended.