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Saturday, January 18, 2014


(Marco Kotze)

Premiering at the Musho! Festival at the Catalina Theatre at Wilson’s Wharf on Friday evening was Clinton Marius’ brand new production, White Christmas.

As an award winning playwright, Marius is very well known for his children’s theatre and comedy pieces - and of course for his long running radio soapie Lollipop Lane.

However, on this occasion he had to dig much deeper into his past and his personal memories to produce this rather dark, tragicomedy monologue.

Marius has used his own experiences of growing up in an underprivileged, yet loving, white South African family to create this semi-biographical work.

The result is the story of the Van Niekerk family who travel annually to the Park Rennie Caravan Park for their Christmas holiday. They always book the same site, set up camp in the same way, follow the same routines and indulge in the same activities - year after year. It is a happy family tradition and great memories of their time together are formed.

During the play, we see young JP Van Niekerk, who is now in his early 20’s, setting up camp as usual. He is fastidious in ensuring that everything is exactly like it always has been, even down to the deck chairs been in precisely the same position. As he works, he talks about the members of his family and the happy and funny incidents which have taken place over the years on their holidays, and at home.

However, there is an air of unease about the young man and his actions and one can’t help wondering if everything is as it should be.

The role of JP is played by Marco Kotze. He is a young fledging actor in only his second professional appearance. He was understandably very nervous and while this was apparent at times, he still managed a brave performance. The emotions and vulnerability he showed towards the end of the work had more than one audience member in tears.

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.

They are the unpretentious, salt of the earth, type of people who have played such an important role in the history of our country.

While White Christmas does need a bit more work to tighten it up, it shows great potential. I look forward to seeing its growth in the future.

The Musho! Festival is presented by PANSA with support from Twist Theatre Development Projects, The KZN Department of Arts and Culture, The Daily News, BASA and the Arts and Culture Trust (ACT). For more details of the rest of the programme visit – Keith Millar