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Review: CALL ME A FOOL at Studio 3, LAMTA Captures First Love with Earnestness, Comedy and Depth

This one-act musical runs from 16 to 21 December 2022.

By: Dec. 19, 2022
Review: CALL ME A FOOL at Studio 3, LAMTA Captures First Love with Earnestness, Comedy and Depth  Image
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Theatre allows us to escape but it also allows us to recognise parts of ourselves and our (often universal) experiences mirrored in a work - which in turn makes us feel validated and seen. This fresh, new musical does just that. CALL ME A FOOL centres around two twenty-something year old women navigating their first serious relationship. Creator Leah Mari's libretto and book capture the intensity, chaos, and the soaring highs and crushing lows that come with falling in love for the first time.

CALL ME A FOOL chronicles the dynamics of this tender relationship and how it is challenged when the pair moves to Cape Town together after Zara (Sunny Yoon) gets the opportunity to compete in football trials with the hope of being able to play professionally. A starry-eyed, BA-in-English graduate Amy (Léa Blerk) takes the risk and follows her.

I had the honour of seeing Mari, Yoon and Blerk perform last month in BEING STEVE; all three shone in that show. It was a treat to see them do the same here.

Mari began writing this musical while she was still in high school in 2018 and completed the first draft in 2020. Mari is at once the composer, lyricist, director, accompanist and co-producer of this show - at the young age of 21. After being crowned one of the winners of the Cabaret and Beyond (CAB) Festival in 2021, having entered with one of the songs from CALL ME A FOOL, Mari got the opportunity to develop the show with the help of Janice Honeyman as dramaturg. The musical then toured in Port Elizabeth and Durban and now, after three more drafts, Mari (a current LAMTA student) has brought the show to Cape Town with LAMTA as a co-producer - with the assistance of LAMTA directors Duane Alexander and Anton Luitingh. Every aspect of the show from the stage management to the performances to the lighting design has been executed by current or freshly-graduated LAMTA students.

Review: CALL ME A FOOL at Studio 3, LAMTA Captures First Love with Earnestness, Comedy and Depth  Image

Mari's production, which is around 70 minutes in length, includes 11 musical numbers. As mentioned above, she accompanies the performers herself and her piano playing is flawless. Her musical numbers are conversational, nuanced and filled with emotion, perfectly emulating the frantic optimism of an early relationship. Songs are often fast-paced and hilarious, like 'Job Available' which showcases the all-too-familiar existential dread that emerges while searching for a job as a young adult with little professional experience. Other songs are tender and tug at the heartstrings, like 'Amy's Lullaby'. Suffice to say, this musical has balance, depth and heart. What an incredible feat, to have created this production at such a young age. I look forward to seeing Mari's continued contribution to South African musical theatre.

Blerk and Yoon are both excellent performers with powerful vocals - it is a joy to watch them. Each has great energy and tackles her role with excitement and passion, and they execute both their solo parts and harmonies with aplomb. At times diction is an issue and words get lost - this is something to watch out for. Additionally, toward the end when tensions are high, performers must be careful not to shout when delivering the climax of a song.

Both performers manage to convey genuine, three-dimensional characterisations in a small amount of time. Yoon convincingly brings to life self-assured, driven, capricious Zara with authenticity and a great understanding of the character. Blerk does a stellar job of portraying anxious, quirky and ultimately bolshy Amy with sensitivity and conviction. Her comedic timing is excellent. Both have star quality.

The piece works well in the studio which provides an intimate space for an intimate story and the simple staging means that no clunky set detracts from the pace.

Do not miss this opportunity to see this moving, passionate new musical while you can - with excellent music, lyrics and leads, you would be a fool to miss it.

CALL ME A FOOL has a short run from 16 to 21 December at Studio 3, LAMTA (in the Theatre on the Bay building). Tickets are R150 and can be booked by emailing callmeafoolsa@gmail.com .




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