Scene It: 'White Elephant' addresses greatly misplaced family expectations that shock and amuse

November 27, 2016

White Elephant is the debut play-text by novelist David Cornwell. It introduces you to an eccentric mother and a self-centred daughter with anything but a healthy relationship. Neither can look beyond their own skewed realities.


As they gradually drop their guard, they reveal a need for love and support but neither knows how to give or receive that which they most yearn for. Both mother and daughter are lying to themselves as a means of coping. Nevertheless both are convinced that they know best and have no problem in communicating that in the most judgmental of manners.


Under the marvelous direction of Philip Rademeyer, Bo Petersen and Danieyella Rodin step into the off-beat roles of mother and daughter, to give full expression to 'Ma' and 'Issy' and their underlying demons, strange mood swings and regret fueled midnight conversations. With great direction and skill they swing the theatre experience pendulum between funny and shocking without missing a beat in a very balanced way.


Although the play does not necessarily bring any new insight to the familiar family relationship theme, it does offer exactly what it promises. It is indeed “an urban South African gothic tale” that takes a critical look at the unrelenting sense of entitlement of the characters trapped in limbo by the ghostly remnants of extravagance.


It is worth going to see White Elephant at Alexander Upstairs by 3 December 2016 just to witness the magnificent acting of Bo Petersen in this display of mother-daughter perplexity and panic.



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