Tobacco and the harmful effects thereof opens at The Market

The Market Theatre is back on track

Image courtesy
Image courtesy

It’s hard to believe that the Market Theatre celebrates its 40th birthday this year, opening mid 1976 just 5 days after that most significant of dates – 16th June.  While its history as the ‘theatre of the struggle’, as a site of anti-apartheid resistance pre the mid 1990s, is well known,  it felt as though, post 1994, it took time to reposition itself and its productions. And recently it went through a rough time with minimal productions programmed for 2015.  Apparently door receipts do not traditionally cover more than some 30% of theatre productions (so outside sponsorship is a prerequisite) and the Market Foundation application of the National Lottery took a long time to be considered.

Tobacco and the harmful effects thereof  opens at The Market

However thankfully it seems that things are back on track with lots of exciting plays coming up, not least of which is Tobacco and the harmful effects thereof.  This production (adapted by William Harding), uses as its starting point Anton Chekhov’s 1886 monologue On the Harmful Effects of Tobacco. This is apposite in this 40th birthday year of the Market, given that the theatre’s first production was Chekhov’s The Seagull directed by Barney Simon.  Tobacco and the harmful effects thereof performed to sell out seasons at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival in 2014 and at the Baxter Theatre, Cape Town in 2015 and it’s just returned from the Amsterdam Fringe Festival as part of the Best of the Fringe programme.

Andrew Buckland is, as always, superb

Andrew Buckland as Ivan
Andrew Buckland as Ivan

Ivan (Andrew Buckland) is told by his wife (Toni Morkel) to lecture on the harmful effects of tobacco … What follows is not so much a lecture, as an ‘unfolding of the often hilarious and poignant journey of a man trying to be heard for the first time’.  This re-imagining of Chekov’s monologue is shot through with Kafka, Edward Lear and Andre Breton to produce a surreal journey directed by Sylvaine Strike. Both Anthony Buckland and Toni Morkel are consummate performers so as Sassen says ‘you know you are in safe hands’. (Robyn Sassen is an insightful and rigorous arts and entertainment critic.)   Sassen writes:  ‘Buckland and Morkel together articulate a level of clowning sophistication which makes you remember what perfect theatre is all about. With authoritative focus, they make you laugh at something tragic, and cry at something ridiculous: armed only with their bodies and their skill they invest poignancy into clumsiness and incredible poetry into a hen-pecked middle-aged man in his underpants with a necktie around his sweaty head.’ Sassen concludes her review with: ‘ If you choose to have one theatre experience in your whole life, make it this one.’ Now that’s a high praise indeed.

Tickets are R180 with a special of R140 Wednesday and Thursdays. Book through Computicket You have until the 6th March to see this extraordinary production.

It’s Liz’s Pick of the Week

From Liz at Lancaster's noticeboard
From Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse‘s noticeboard

Make the most of the evening and have a light pre-theatre supper at The Potato Shed, the sister restaurant to Grand Café Life in Hyde Park, is located, as its name suggests, on the site of the old potato sheds of the original market next to the Market Theatre.  There’s lots of parking – another plus.  Phone 010 590 6133 to book.

Although shops will be closed prior to evening performances – you can always do some window shopping in the adjacent Work Shop, a shopping emporium housing stores with hip funky brands like Black Coffee, Love Jozi and Makhoza knitwear amongst others.


Support local productions, explore new additions to Newtown, marvel at the value-for-money of our theatre, and most importantly, enjoy a great evening.

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