How to chase thrills

IT’S all in the starts: life, death, luck and predetermined wins, says Gary in Roy Horovitz’s play ‘Do I Win or Do I Lose?’ photograph by Simcha Barabiro, courtesy Theatre on the Square.

MONEY IS A strange thing. It’s like energy. You don’t have it? Its value changes. You do? Again, it’s something different that speaks to legacy and hope, luxury and a whole range of nice-to-haves. Not everyone might agree with this if you presented them with pocketsful of cash based on a waiver, but Israeli theatre practitioner Roy Horovitz gives you food for thought and grist for an actuary’s mill. His nifty yarn Will I Win or Will I Lose? at Theatre on the Square, this week, is sprinkled with some truisms and a truckful of Scottish courage and takes the form of a curious foray into the business of fate, luck and courage that will make you laugh and weep out loud.

Presented as a story within a story with a bit of licence that includes a funny song about a pig in Hebrew, a touch of the coincidental with a subscription to the lottery and a sophisticated rest on the shoulders of the likes of Isaac Newton and his ideas around predestination and inevitability, it’s a tale of a boy and his grandpa.

The man comes of deep poverty and takes the kind of risks that others with more to lose wouldn’t dare. This story, based on fact, takes a scenario which sews together our sense of self-importance in this world and the looming presence of death, into the stars in heaven and the garden outside. Horovitz has a strong accent, but an immense skill in casting a scenario with face, voice and body language that gives his work a rich and clear readability conjoined with a comforting sense of empathy and a total aversion to maudlin portrayal of sadness.

Along the lines of Hal Ashby’s perfect 1971 film Harold and Maude, which gloriously throws barbs at death, the piece blends cynicism with the friendly narrative voice. You are immersed into the venture capitalism of Gary’s grandfather, the beautiful game and the wildness of the proverbial roulette wheels he spins around fortunes that are allowed to come and go, but you’re never allowed to fall completely. Philosophy and logic hold you fast, and in Horovitz’s theatrical presence, you are safe.

Bringing in the power of onions to smell and to warn of impending catastrophe, as well as the value of the shoe as a secret hiding place and the hilarity of soccer bullies, to say nothing of strawberries which are horrible, but serve a purpose in the world, it’s a truly delicious piece, which is about the pragmatics of being in the world and the chances you take to hold your own.  

  • Do I Win or Do I Lose? is directed by Lia Koenig. Written and performed by Roy Horovitz, it features music by Shmulik Noifeld and costumes by Oren Dar. It is produced by Daphne Kuhn, stage managed by Regina Dube assisted by Melidah Thakadu and technically managed by Loftus Mohale assisted by Reggie Mathebe. It is at Theatre on the Square in Sandton until 19 August. Call 011 883-8606.

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