Black comedy about a white South African family

Black comedy about a white South African family

Copy Dog will present the one-man tragi-comedy, ‘White Christmas’, written and directed by Clinton Marius, and starring gifted young Durban-based actor, Jonathan Cohen, making his role debut in this challenging piece which runs at Seabrooke’s Theatre in Musgrave from Thursday to Sunday, March 3 to 6.
‘White Christmas’ is about the “Currently Disadvantaged”. Every year the Van Niekerk family go “upmarket” and spend the festive season at the Margate Caravan Park. But this year’s holiday will be different. Way different.

Says Marius, known for his ability to write across South Africa’s cultural divides in his bench-mark radio series, ‘Lollipop Lane’, and his multi award-winning stage shows, ‘The Fantastical Flea Circus’, ‘B!*ch Stole My Doek’, and ‘Sweetie Darling’: “‘White Christmas’ is, ironically, a black comedy about a South African family’s 350-year history in this country, and where they stand today. The play is the most personal I have written to date, in that it turns a satirical spotlight on my own family. Certain elements have been tweaked for dramatic effect, but the bittersweet account is by-and-large a factual one.”

Appraising the content of the piece after a single try-out performance two years ago, theatre critic Gisele Turner wrote: “‘White Christmas’ is a monologue of remembrance. A family of four, parents and the classic pigeon pair of brother and sister, take their holiday in a caravan by the sea every year and splurge on the small luxuries their meagre income can afford them. Usually a time of relaxation and celebration, tragedy strikes and Christmas can never be the same again for Gerrit Van Niekerk.”

“Clinton Marius has identified an area of our complex society – that of impoverished white people – and he looks with a kind yet humorous eye on their plight. Raised during apartheid and therefore still able to get jobs and take holidays, the Van Niekerk family have currently hit harder times in a cultural environment where being pale skinned works against them and their future looks bleak.”
ArtSmart reviewer Keith Miller wrote: “Clinton Marius is a fine wordsmith. His descriptions of the Van Niekerk family, as related by JP, introduce some very real and multidimensional people. From the matriarchal and god fearing mother, to the kind, gentle and very supportive father, and the modestly ambitious sister, all have tangible character.”

Jonathan Cohen made his professional debut on the Durban theatre circuit with KickstArt’s ‘Shrek! The Musical’ in 2015. He completed his Honour’s degree in Drama and Performance at the University in KwaZulu- Natal in the same year. Before that in 2013, he appeared in Peter Mitchell’s ‘The Great American Songbook’ at the Hexagon Dive Theatre in Pietermaritzburg, a jukebox musical that solidified Cohen’s love for jazz, as well as singing onstage.

His dance training saw him in good stead as he went on to choreograph pieces for St. John’s school in Pietermaritzburg for the collaborative dance show Millennium FUNK! for three years, establishing himself as a dance teacher and choreographer. ‘White Christmas’ is his first one-man show.

* Performances of ‘White Christmas’ at Seabrooke’s Theatre on the Durban High School campus in Musgrave are at 7.30pm (Thursday to Saturday, March 3 to 5), and at 2.30pm on Sunday, March 6.
Tickets are R90 and booking is through Computicket on 0861 915 8000, or online at Secure parking will be provided.
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Seabrooke’s Theatre is situated on 255 St. Thomas Road, Musgrave.