SA premiere of Topdog/Underdog for Alexander Bar

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Marty Kintu and Daniel Richards in Topdog Underdog. (Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht.)
Marty Kintu and Daniel Richards in Topdog Underdog. (Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht.)

Jon Keevy is proud to present the SA premiere of Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog, directed by Mdu Kweyama, with Marty Kintu and Daniel Richards.

Topdog/Underdog is described by The New York Times as “a deeply theatrical experience”, and Jon Keevy and Alexander Upstairs are excited to bring this play to Cape Town.

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Daniel Richards as Booth in Topdog Underdog. (Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht.)
Daniel Richards as Booth in Topdog Underdog. (Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht.)

It’s a play that tells the story of brothers named Lincoln and Booth – their father’s idea of a joke. Lincoln works in an arcade as his namesake – dressing in whiteface – pretending to watch his final play as customers shoot toy guns at him. He’s underpaid, but clings to the job for fear of being replaced by a wax dummy. His brother, Booth, shoplifts and dreams of running a three-card monte game on the street like his brother used to do, all with the goal of impressing the girl of his dreams.

Marty Kintu as Lincoln in Topdog Underdog. (Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht.)
Marty Kintu as Lincoln in Topdog Underdog. (Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht.)

Mdu Kweyama directs Marty Kintu and Daniel Richards in this taut two-hander. He describes it as “a gritty and riveting experience. Suzan-Lori Parks’ play has a balance of lyricism and realism that sets it apart from other plays. It’s a play that challenges identity and the bonds of brotherhood; a play of big ideas made painfully human.”

The play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2002, and was described by the Pulitzer committee as “a darkly comic fable of brotherly love and family identity”.

Topdog/Underdog looks at the sibling dynamic – the older brother who feels saddled with responsibility, the younger who felt he never had a chance to shine – but also looks at the bigger themes of family, connection, and, in Parks’ words, “who the world thinks you’re going to be, and how you struggle with that”.

Marty Kintu as Lincoln in Topdog Underdog. (Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht.)
Marty Kintu as Lincoln in Topdog Underdog. (Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht.)

This is the first time that Alexander Upstairs will host a two-act play and have it in residence for the duration of the run, as opposed to its usual rotating schedule. Alexander Upstairs manager Jon Keevy says “We’re excited to present this great American text. While our stages are teeming with local productions of West End and Broadway shows, very few of these are from the African Diaspora – that’s a shame, because black excellence needs to connect, needs to be shared, and not overshadowed by another production of Pinter.

Daniel Richards as Booth in Topdog Underdog. (Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht.)
Daniel Richards as Booth in Topdog Underdog. (Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht.)

“When putting together the team it was crucial for us to support a core of black creative talent and to then take a back seat – supporting them by letting them work freely. Within our limited resources we think that something truly exciting is being made.”

Topdog/Underdog previews at Alexander Bar Café and Theatre on 3 May and runs from 4 to 20 May nightly, excluding Sundays. Shows are at 7pm, and the running time is 2 hours and 10 minutes, including an interval.

Tickets are R100 – R140. Book securely online with a credit card for any show at Alexander Upstairs by visiting www.shows.alexanderbar.co.za or reserve your ticket without paying (but miss out on the discount)

  • The direct booking page for this particular show is www.alexanderbar.co.za/show/topdogunderdog
  • You can also purchase tickets in person at the bar anytime during our regular opening hours (Mon – Sat 11am to 1am, Sun 3pm – midnight)
  • For telephone inquiries: 021 300 1652
  • Alexander Bar & Café, 76 Strand Street (Corner Loop), Cape Town CBD, 8001
  • Under 18s must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • Open 7 days a week: Mon-Sat: 11am – 1am, Sun: 3pm – 12am.
  • Sandwiches, light meals, cheese boards and snacks served until midnight. Menu available here
  • Facebook: facebook.com/AlexanderBarCT Twitter: @AlexanderBarCT

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