Rundown has taken root

Since its inception in 1992, the comedy revue Rundown has come a long way. So have Cayman audiences, director Henry Muttoo believes.

The annual (except for one year) production is now firmly established and anticipated, Mr. Muttoo said this week.

‘Rundown is the one name that has sustained such a long run that people not only look forward to it but actually call and want to know when it will be on,’ he shared. ‘Well-known personalities, mentioned in past shows, will even ask ‘You catch me again?”

The catch could be as the result of a recent news event or an illustration of universal human nature in the Cayman context.

But the humour is benign, Mr. Muttoo hastened to add. Meanness or satire that hits too hard makes audiences uncomfortable.

Astute awareness of their subjects and audiences is part of what has made Mr. Muttoo’s partnership with writer and musician Dave Martins such a success.

Rundown’s staging and format is unpretentious, and both men depend on the audiences’ intelligence and imagination.

‘We don’t have elaborate scene changes,’ Mr. Muttoo said. ‘We put up a sign saying ‘Labour Office’ and every member of the audience will use his or her imagination and see a slightly different office, but it will be consistent with what is going on in the scene.’

In the same way, a recurring skit has a driver being pulled over by a police officer. ‘We use little wood boxes as cars and audiences enjoy a sense of the ridiculous,’ he said.

In the first Rundown, a skit about Members of the Legislative Assembly featured actors wearing masks. Brent McLean built papier-mâché heads and attached enlarged photocopies of politicians’ faces.

‘Now the reality of their faces is implied,’ Mr. Muttoo said. ‘We do it with voices and gestures, and perceptive audiences pick up immediately who is being caricatured.’

Along with this evolution, there is continuity to Rundown that gives it roots and adds to audience enjoyment and involvement. The setting has usually been somebody’s backyard, often with a dominant tree, shed or – like this year – a boat. (Not just any boat, mind you – a catboat.)

The caboose on the set is the same one used for the past six or seven years, Mr. Muttoo noted: ‘It survived Ivan.’

Rundown is one of the few productions mounted by the Cayman National Cultural Foundation that makes a profit, he revealed. ‘At the end of the show, we take a percentage of the net and divide it proportionately among the actors according to the load they had to carry, but really, you can only pay people for the gas they spend to get here.’

Mr. Muttoo would like to see more performers involved on a more permanent basis. This would allow the establishment of a theatre company that could build up a repertoire of plays so that one could be staged every six weeks or so. But asking volunteers to devote that much time just isn’t reasonable, he agreed.

He does take satisfaction from the number of Rundown participants over the years; the training and experience he helped provide will be part of their lives forever.

There must be further satisfaction in recalling that the first Rundown was scheduled for just four performances, but CNCF had to bring it back by popular demand. It has been back by popular demand ever since.

Rundown was set to open last night at the Harquail Theatre and run Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 6pm, until 15 March. Tickets are available from Singh’s Roti Shop, Foster’s Food Fair, Funky Tangs and CNCF (949-5477).