Theatre News South Africa

Dark and lovely

A new one-woman show based on the short stories of American writer and satirist Dorothy Parker is now showing at Cape Town's Alexander Bar. A Certain Lady is directed by Greg Karvellas and is darkly humorous, much like his outstanding work in The Frontiersmen and Champ.
Dark and lovely

In just under an hour, five interwoven stories explore the life of a woman in the jazz age, including commentary on relationships, dinner party chitchat, fashion failures, and waltzes with shin-kicking brutes. Even several decades after the publication of her work, one senses Parker's infamous honesty and sharp wit. And even though she disliked her reputation as a "wisecracker", her ability to express universal and sometimes painful truths is hard to deny.

With short black hair, long white pearls, and a spot-on American accent, award-winning actress Emily Child brings bright energy to her portrayal of Parker's polite and compliant image to the world (mostly spoken to a tuxedoed mannequin). This contrasts well with her dry and sarcastic tone when speaking directly to the audience about what's really on her mind.

The Hollywood blacklist

Parker was well-known for her frankness as a critic and was even fired from Vanity Fair after repeatedly offending important producers with her reviews. She later received two Academy Award nominations for her screenwriting, but this success was cut short when her involvement in left-wing politics had her placed on the Hollywood blacklist.

She was a vocal advocate of civil rights and bequeathed her estate to the Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Foundation. Following his death, the estate passed to the NAACP, without house support this production would not have been possible.

Despite an unhappy childhood and a string of failed relationships later in life, Parker kept her sense of humour right to the end. For her tombstone inscription, she chose the phrase "Excuse my dust".

A Certain Lady is at Cape Town's Alexander Bar until 1 March. Book at or call +27 (0)21 300 1652.

About Eugene Yiga

Eugene graduated from the University of Cape Town with distinctions in financial accounting and classical piano. He then spent over two-and-half years working in branding and communications at two of South Africa's top market research companies. Eugene also spent over three-and-a-half years at an eLearning start-up, all while building his business as an award-winning writer. Visit, follow @eugeneyiga on Twitter, or email moc.agiyenegue@olleh to say, um, hello.
Let's do Biz