The Nose is family fare and similar in style to the revues of Michael Flanders and Donald Swann, so it is full of witty foot-tapping music.
Grahamstown is fortunate in that this production is the international premiére. The plot line belongs in the absurd theatre category as it is based on a satirical short story by Nikolai Gogol and is set in St Petersburg before the October 1917 Revolution.
It traces the highs and lows of a social climber who, in an absurd twist of fate, loses his nose, which then acquires a successful social life of its own. The musical was written by Kit Goldstein Grant, a New York City-based composer, lyricist and librettist and was directed by Cape Town-based Margot Wood for Anex Theatre Productions.
Although it is set in St Petersburg, it has universal application as what young man does not feel that is preposterous to propose with a pimple on your nose and wishes that his nose would disappear. But as we are warned ever so often, ‘be careful what you wish for, it may be granted to you’, Kovalyov, played by David Wilke, loses his nose and asks his friends, Matroyshka (Marzanne Kriek), the Chief of Police (Hilton Andries) and the doctor (Simthembile Gobeni) to find the nose before he proposes to Olga (Jared Ethan Blake).
The singing and staging is full of energy, but that means one must listen very closely to the witty lyrics. For me the ensemble singing was professional, but Hilton Andries stood out with his bravura performance as his hung onto his long notes and delivered them with passion.
By Helmo Preuss
Watch the final performance at the Masonic Front on July 7 at 4pm.