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PRESS: New Louis Viljoen play, THE SIN DRINKERS, promises to entice with a whiskey-soaked journey at the Baxter's Masambe this April

Theatre Scene Cape Town


Award-winning playwright and director Louis Viljoen’s new gripping tale, THE SIN DRINKERS, explores broken people on an intoxicated journey in pursuit of redemption. THE SIN DRINKERS premieres at the Baxter’s Masambe Theatre from 23 April to 11 May 2024.

“If I’m good in the light, and bad in the dark, then what am I at dusk?”



Frank, a practiced booze-hound and a hunter of people, tracks down his daughter’s best friend in the hopes of unearthing secrets and solving a mystery that has caused a rot in his soul. Theresa, an aimless young woman masking her regrets with debauchery and a sharp tongue, reluctantly invites Frank into her life in order to rectify the mistakes in her past. What follows is a darkly comedic, whiskey-soaked journey into the pitch-black parts of the human psyche.


With THE SIN DRINKERS, writer and director, Louis Viljoen, reunites with broadcasting legend John Maytham and acclaimed actor Emma Kotze to tell a story of shattered lives and the dark truths that slither under people’s skins.


Viljoen has been described as a playwright who creates worlds and characters that are gleefully devious. His ability to construct extraordinary narratives out of ordinary situations, entertains in an unashamedly unconventional manner. Viljoen acknowledges that his aim is not to create theatre for everyone, but for those who appreciate pushing boundaries. His plays are often peppered with dark humour, biting wit, and intense emotional exploration. With a fearless yet philosophic approach he uses profanity and explicit sexual references as tools with which to expose human cruelty, power struggles and the darkness that lurks beneath the seedy underbelly of life. Social taboos feed the thought-provoking boldness of his work, which isn’t for the faint-hearted.


Keith Bain (Daily Maverick) has described Viljoen’s style as “terrifyingly intimate… with clever turns of phrase and prose that borders on poetry” as “dark comic twists and turns… invariably take us into a universe of upside-down morality”. Veteran journalist, author and stand-up comedian, Marianne Thamm, also proclaims that Viljoen’s “scalpel-wielding writing… kicks boring English into shape”, while theatre critic, Beverley Brommert (Theatre Scene Cape Town) characterises Viljoen’s ghoulish theatre style as “sharply witty” with “well-considered direction” that “rates highly as worthwhile theatre”.

Emma Kotze first stepped into a world of Viljoen’s creation in Oh, Baby I’m A Wild One (2016), where she delivered an endearing yet unsettling performance as a desperate young woman in search of salvation. Years later she took that Viljoen experience further in the more mature, and inevitably darker, The Grass Widow (2023). Playwright, Philip Rademeyer, described Kotze’s performance as single handedly encompassing “outcast, innocence and hope, monster, seductress, machine gun and bruised young woman”. Marianne Thamm echoed the sentiment, labelling Kotze’s performance “compelling and brilliant”, while actress, Maria Vos, heralded Kotze’s portrayal “a fabulous agent of righteous chaos”. Kotze is excited to take this exploration of Viljoen’s work further as she steps into the role of Theresa in THE SIN DRINKERS.


With his distinctive modulated voice, John Maytham is set to take on the role of Frank opposite Kotze’s Theresa. Maytham too is well-acquainted with the distinctive style of Viljoen’s plays. His performance in The Outlaw Muckridge (a significant theatre experience as the first production staged at The Baxter when theatres reopened to limited audiences in October 2020) showcased his versatility and ability to bring a complex character to life, with a clear understanding of the unique blend of language, imagery, and storytelling that characterise Viljoen’s plays. Beverley Brommert (Weekend Special) lauded the play as proof that theatre “is not only alive and well, but in blazing form”, as Maytham’s polished delivery did “full justice, whether bellowing or whispering” to the richness of metaphors reflected in Viljoen’s text. Lindsay Kruger (Broadway World) also praised Maytham for “an inimitable performance” with which he lured the audience in with “sympathy, curiosity, aversion and amusement”. In his plays, Viljoen uses damaged people as vehicles to reveal dark truths, and The Outlaw Muckridge is no exception. Very much aware of this Viljoen trait, Mariana Malan (Theatre Scene Cape Town) also praised Maytham for his portrayal of a “damaged man with emphathy”.

After their successful collaboration with The Grass Widow and The Visigoths, Viljoen reunites with designer Kieran McGregor. McGregor understands how to create the isolated worlds in which Viljoen’s character’s reveal their twisted tales, as he adds his own exceptional design aesthetic. This will be McGregor’s fourth project working alongside Viljoen, having also done the design for the Viljoen penned The Eulogists.

The haunting tale at the centre of Frank and Theresa’s encounter in THE SIN DRINKERS may not be for the marginally sensitive or the easily offended, but it promises to move and surprise you as they reveal their dark and dangerous secrets. Will their journey lead them to a point of redemption or are they forever doomed to just pour another drink to soothe their scarred souls?


THE SIN DRINKERS will be onstage at the Baxter Theatre Centre’s Masambe Theatre from 23 April to 11 May 2024. It carries an age restriction of 18 for explicit language and scenes of a sexual nature. Tickets are available online through Webtickets and range from R130 to R170 per person.


Production: The Sin Drinkers

Written and directed by Louis Viljoen

Performed by John Maytham and Emma Kotze

Designed by Kieran McGregor

Production photos by Claude Barnardo

Poster and website design by Barbara Loots

Dates: 23 April to 11 May 2024        

Venue: Masambe Theatre, Baxter Theatre Centre

Bookings: Webtickets

Tickets: R130 – R170


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