She’s zany, she’s confident, she’s a she, and what’s more, she’s brought her A-game to the stage with Devil’s Advocate.
Playing the devil’s advocate is never easy on a person’s moral conscience but, I had to admit, it looked fun. Angel Campey – yes, really, Angel – brought us dark comedy for her second time at the National Arts Festival.
Directed by Tara Notcutt, Devil’s Advocate showed audiences what it’s like to be a “fallen angel” (as Campey calls herself) in South Africa. She kicked off to a fiery start with an introduction to herself, and why someone would willingly name their child Angel – to which even she couldn’t give a convincing reason. However Campey did confirm that, of the two options her name gave her, she chose to be a comedian instead of a stripper.
Now that’s not to say she didn’t speak about more serious topics like Apartheid, land ownership, feminism, and the difference between America’s idea of racism and what we know here in South Africa. One of Campey’s strengths throughout the sketch was that she could take an uncomfortable topic like racism or land ownership – topics we often tiptoe around – and dive right into those tumultuous waters, taking us with her, and then pushing us up to take a breath and just laugh about it.
Another highlight was Campey’s attempt to educate audiences on what racism is like in other countries. Using her international adventures on the comedy stages in New York, Canada, and even Nigeria, she shed light on what it meant to be a white woman talking about race so enthusiastically – suffices to say, it was hilarious!
Her smooth change between the awkward white woman and a proud South African left the audience in stitches, all the while portraying Campey’s hilarious level of self-awareness. By the end of the show Campey, a veteran comedian, had proven that lasting prejudices and crazy families exist in all our lives but it’s the way we deal with it that matters more.
She leaves us with a choice to make as a South African audience: laugh, or be laughed at, because the only other alternative is to be boring. And where’s the fun in that?
Catch Devil’s Advocate at Masonic Back on 5 July at 20:30, 6 July at 10:30, and 7 July at 12:30.
By Shraddha Patnala