When you come across a play with a title like The White Man’s Guide to Sacrifice you can’t but be intrigued. Surely this storyline can only be creative and very interesting. So off to the Baxter Theatre I headed on 1 October 2015 to see this Alex McCarthy written and directed play, described as a “hilarious dark farce”.
Those who are fans of the sitcom How I Met Your Mother may get a Barney ‘keep calm and suit-up’ feel when seeing this. I sat there imagining Barney telling Ted and Marshall the crazy story about how he was on the brink of getting into the Lamborghini club, but he was surprised by a cow in his apartment …
Yes, it’s all that bazar and at certain moments you will giggle at the insanity of it all. Yet, it misses that element that makes the absurd absolutely amazing. In the end, I walked out wondering where the depth is. Even comedy, and especially a dark farce, should evoke a reaction… something that lingers.
Let me first say, I really like the set design, also done by McCarthy, especially the cow that takes centre stage in this production. Clever play with minimalistic pieces and lighting really give atmosphere and magic that enhances the storytelling at all the right moments.
The young cast of Nathan Lynn, Cameron Robertson, Sive Gubangxa and Jazzara Jaslyn impress at times. The star of this group is unquestionably Sive Gubangxa, as she owns the stage with her character and demands your attention whenever she speaks.
When evaluating whether I like a production I always find myself thinking of what I call the Hennie van Greunen test: 'Make me feel'. This quirky production however didn’t make me feel, which sadly means in a week or two I will probably not remember it.
After the frantic attempts of the characters to humanely part with their new four hoofed friend, the ending is somewhat anticlimactic. An open ended fade-out can be very commanding, but after having just seen Jannes Erasmus’ Still which had such a powerful, hit-you-in-the-feels cliff-hanger, The White Man’s Guide to Sacrifice leaves me wanting.
All-in-All, the story concept is good in theory though perhaps not in stage translation, the text has growth potential, there are funny moments, the cow rocks, Sive Gubangxa impresses and I now know that cows can’t walk down stairs.
As the Baxter’s 2015 artist-in-residence Alex McCarthy is definitely a name to watch and a creative mind with loads of potential. For the mere fact that he will definitely only grow better and stronger in his work from here on, it is worth going to see The White Man’s Guide to Sacrifice to be able to map his theatre milestones to come.
The White Man's Guide to Sacrifice runs at the Baxter Theatre until 10 October 2015. Tickets are R100 and available at Computicket.