After apartheid

Sorrows and Rejoicings

Sorrows and Rejoicings; 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday; $8-$15. Celebration Arts Theatre, 4469 D St.; (916) 455-2787; Through May 26.

Celebration Arts Theatre

4469 D St.
Sacramento, CA 95819

(916) 455-2787

Rated 3.0

Apartheid in South Africa is a topic that, for many, hits home hard. The 1990 release of Nelson Mandela signaled a key shift in the country’s political structure and what would happen later in South Africa under to his presidency. Celebration Arts’ current production, the legendary Athol Fugard’s somewhat problematic 2001 play Sorrows and Rejoicings, takes place in 1999 and deals with the social changes that came from the years during and after apartheid ended. James Wheatley directs.

The story centers on the deceased white liberal poet Dawid (Jeff Bagley) and his two lovers: his white English wife, Allison (Carolyn Gregory), and his black African mistress, Marta (Alana Mathews). They must discuss their intertwined lives, connected through Dawid, in flashbacks, and must also accept the fate of the political actions and racial divisions that forced them all apart.

Mathews takes the cake as Dawid’s mistress, having a neurotic knack for keeping his room exactly as he left it. All players give impassioned performances, including the nearly mute, light-skinned illegitimate daughter, Rebecca (La Keisha Star Mondy).

Gregory’s posh Englishwoman is evident in the character: the clothes she wears, the words and manner in which she talks. Everything shouts “English.” Unfortunately, both Gregory and Bagley’s English accents leave everything to be desired. When accents are good, they add another layer to the play. When they are bad, they detract severely enough that scenes drag persistently and the actors’ performance suffers.

Nonetheless, this Fugard one-act is a powerful statement about the affairs of South Africa, and one that deserves to be seen.