Review: Drowning in Milk (Q Loft)
Updated: Jun 2, 2022
What is the attraction, for a white person and/or a man, of going to a show about why living in a male and white-dominated world is difficult? Free drinks. Potentially provocative theatre is a difficult sell at the best of times, as you audience either already agree with you or have little interest in coming to the performance in the first place. Saraid Cameron's show is angry at the status quo, but where theatre of this nature often runs the risk of sounding like an angry voice shouting into an empty void, "Drowning in Milk" is more of a discussion on race and gender over drinks, but on a large scale.
Lasting half an hour, Cameron relays stories and feelings about living as a mixed race woman in predominantly white New Zealand while mixing shots and cocktails for the small audience gathered around her (and remarkably tasty shots and cocktails at that). From the outset, the intention of the show is made plain; "This show is not for your entertainment, and this is mostly for me." Immediately, this changes the typical relationship between audience and performer, where the performer is usually indebted to the audience who passively sit to be entertained. The audience are now here just to hear what Cameron has to say, not to be impressed, and can take away whatever they want, preferably a slightly altered attitude or mindset where needed.
Consequently, the question about whether it was successful is difficult to determine - one can but hope it was as unburdening as Cameron wished. In terms of what the audience take away, it is impossible to see the performance without it leaving an impact, and for most I think it would provide a little perspective, whether or not such perspective is welcomed. Cameron is such a natural story teller and entertainer (the arcs and climaxs of each segment flowing the with rhythm of the cocktails being made, adding a slightly theatrical edge to proceedings) that I never found it alienating despite never finding it relatable. In fact, as a very white audience member coming from a very white background, I found it genuinely insightful and eye-opening.
Cameron's sincere and thought-provoking writing and, for want of a better word, performance, create a valuable piece of casual theatre in a world that needs a middle ground between drama and debate to hear a different perspective. One's experience of any theatre is very often determined by their experiences up until that point, but that is especially true of "Drowning in Milk". In spite of that, and in spite of whether you may "like" the performance, everyone should see this show. And everyone should see it with an open mind. Five stars.