Julie Summers as Joanna Lumley and Bernie Jacobs as Jennifer Saunders in Ab Fab by Constantia Theatre Players
Julie Summers as Joanna Lumley, Bernie Jacobs as Jennifer Saunders in Ab Fab. Pictures: Lynda J Photography

ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS. Tribute to the British sitcom. Originally created by Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French. Adapted and directed by Faeron Wheeler. Costumes Faeron Wheeler and Nicky Enticott. Set design Richard Higgs.  Presented by Constantia Theatre Players. At The Masque Theatre until 1 December 2018.

SHEILA CHISHOLM reviews

Absolutely Fabulous, abbreviated to Ab Fab, is a successful BBC 2 sitcom series that hit British TV in  November 1992 – wowing US viewers shortly thereafter. Created by, and starring Jennifer Saunders as Edina Monsoon, with Joanna Lumley as her glamorous best friend Patsy Stone, the series is based on Dawn French and Jennifer Saunder’s 1990 sketch Modern Mother and Daughter.

How French and Saunders assess a modern mother’s relationship with her daughter is questionable… is she more absorbed in herself, with unkind verbal tendencies towards her child? Or is she an exemplary, selfless caring adult devoted to her family – or is that behaviour considered outdated?

To find the answers, attend Faeron Wheeler’s adaption and production at The Masque Theatre then, assess your own moral values against those of Ab Fab’s.

Bolly darling!

Wheeler did a grand job creating four episodes from Ab Fab DVD’s. These are Fat, Happy New Year, Birthday and Poor. And her cast of 12 played their characterisations with pretty fair aptitude.

Leading the team are blowsy/energetic Bernie Jacobs as Edina (Eddy), glamorous Julie Summers as blond bewigged and gorgeous Patsy, Regina Malan as Eddy’s downtrodden, conservative daughter Saffy and Kim R2 as Bubbles – Eddy’s dilly, absent-minded assistant.

Who’s who

Cameo roles came from Su Cunningham, as Saffy’s sweet grandmother; Richard Higgs as Justin – Saffy’s dull father and  Eddy’s ex; Tash Futeran as blind model Penny Caspar-Morse and then again as Bo – Marshall’s (new) neurotic, fusspot possessive girl friend; Daniel Enticott played Marshall – Eddy’s colourless second ex-husband; Wheeler, as Cherysh – a peroxide blonde, bosomy Dolly Parton look-alike girlfriend to Marshall; Kathryn Griffiths played Jackie – Patsy’s long lost older sister; Graham Ellis doubled as Malcolm an accountant and the Judge who quashed Eddy’s alimony from Justin and Marshall.

Jacobs and Summers make a good team.  As experienced thespians they showed their metal, drinking and cigarette-puffing through many diverse, wacky and dysfunctional family situations.

Julie Summers as Joanna Lumley and Bernie Jacobs as Jennifer Saunders in Ab Fab by Constantia Theatre Players
Plenty of fun by Constantia Theatre Players

A good laugh

First up, and a good laugh, was Fat. Anyone with weight problems would identify with Eddy’s struggle to zip up last year’s jeans. They would appreciate her frustration when neither of her three scales showed a wished-for weight loss.  And they’d sympathise with Saffy vainly suggesting exercising, eating sensibly, discarding slimming pills, and Patsy’s liposuction proposal.

A major difficulty transposing any movie or TV series into a theatrical space is, without benefit of a roaming camera to smoothly link scenes – unfolding the story involves numerous scene changes.  While credit goes to stage crews for swiftly expediting these, repeated blackouts – sometimes longer than the vignette – caused concentration loss. A drawback which not even interim background music or eye-catching colourful clips prevented.

Higgs can take a bow for his romantic three dimensional set. As should Summers who, in gorgeous tight fitting sexy outfits and 15cm stiletto heels walked up steep stairs with utmost grace.

Summers and Jacobs share a great sense of timing, a wide range of movement and facial expression, and could easily upstage Saunders and Lumley if ever asked to appear in an Absolutely Fabulous series.  However, the dialogue written for Jacob’s Birthday so belittled Saffy, it should never ever be treated as funny.

Who: The Constantia Theatre Players
What: Absolutely Fabulous Ab Fab review
Where: The Masque Theatre, Muizenberg, Cape Town
Tickets: www.computicket.co.za
The Masque Theatre: https://www.masquetheatre.co.za/
WS