the Skierlik murders made headlines in 2008..

So when I got the chance to watch a play based on this story.. I was fascinated.. I got even more excited at the thought of seeing legendary actor, Peter Butler.

Here are my thoughts on the play, as written for What’s On In Cape Town:

The last time I saw Peter Butler on stage was for a high school fundraiser in a two-man show with his daughter.  His performance stayed with me, so it was with rather excited anticipation that I counted the days to seeing Sacrifice. 

The Skierlik murders and the violent tension surrounding the communities involved forms the background to this play, written by award-winning playwright and direct Charles J Fourie. Butler’s character, psychotherapist Errol Hendricks, is a political activist who returns to South Africa from America to counsel an Afrikaner boy who has killed a group of black people in a fit of rage.

The play examines the painful twins of vengeance and sacrifice, and explores how a young man can be driven to kill in order to avenge his sister’s rape.  It attempts to explain the reasons for the tension between some communities of white South Africans and the deep-rooted fear they have that black people are out to kill them. It even briefly tries to examine their loss of hope at the change in government of the country.

Sadly, despite (or perhaps because of) the depth of its scope, this production doesn’t quite engage as it should.  Butler, in my starstruck eyes, was the most disappointing.  His character’s tension with his own family – who are referred to in the play but who we never meet – isn’t resolved nor is it explored well enough. And it doesn’t help that Butler’s American accent is barely believable.

Happily there are some high points, in particular young Christa Visser who steals the show with her delicate performance. 

The music is also a good choice, providing a haunting background to an eerie and dark stage, giving the audience an intimate connection to the action taking place right in front of them.

Like South Africa itself, Sacrifice is a play full of promise that has yet to be fulfilled.

Sacrifice runs at the New Africa Theatre until 8 June 2013 at 8pm daily and 5pm Saturdays.


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