If gossip reaches you of your significant other having a Wild night at Theatre on the Bay you have every right to be furious. It means they went to see Robert Fridjhon’s new one man show without you, and very few relationships can survive a betrayal like that.
Wild is a mashup of How I Met Your Mother, Defending the Caveman and The Lion King condensed to 80 minutes and directed by Alan Committee. The narrative bounces back and forth punctuated by a phrase the audience grows to know very well, “Let me start again”.
Through many stop/starts the crazy tale, the kind one usually only hears at 2am in a bar, starts to unfold. Fridjhon is an Animal. He is also a self-confessed asshole and completely trashed in a strip club on a Friday afternoon. He has to save his relationship with Safe Suburban Nicky over dinner that evening, but first he has to be the Animal at the staff party at a strip club, have an intimate altercation with a stuffed lioness trophy and gain a new perspective on his life.
Fridjhon methodically paints the set with words, sculpting a dingy strip club into a complete lion enclosure from thin air. The audience leans forward as Ruby the lion stalks him through the long grass. They feel the compressed air on their skins as his little Scottish mother deflates the pool.
A minor but spectacular case of “theatre inception” occurs with throwbacks to Defending the Caveman, a role director Alan Committee has reprised for many seasons on the very same stage.
At the core of any good wild story is the element of truth, that hint of reality that makes the impossible seem plausible. Wild is based on Fridjhon’s experience of working at an animal sanctuary, and his genuine love wildlife is evident in all his elaborate anthropomorphic animal characterisations, all of which add depth to an already strong performance.
With Wild, Robert Fridjohn introduces a playfully intelligent brand of humour to the stage. It truly delivers on its tagline, “It’s a comedy that will sink its teeth into you.”
Wild runs at Theatre on the Bay until 31 January 2015. Ten percent of Robert Fridjohn’s earnings from the play will be donated to the Drakenstein Lion Sanctuary in Paarl.