It’s been argued that theatre is ailing. In fact just last year, a whole debate was held about the matter, much as many enthusiasts of theatre could have argued that the judgement was simply too harsh, ugly reality is that theatre is in a danger zone.
And the number of the people in the audience has nothing to do with it.
Last week, Afri-Talent summed up yet another production, Ettottolima (The Rage), probably their worst offering in a long time, not that it lacked an audience – it actually had a fair share of the spoils that even on the last two shows, a commendable number of people showed up.
Starring reputable actors like Abby Mukibi, Moses Male and Moreen Namuli among others, the production falls flat on more than an occasion.
From the start, when the curtains open, it’s clear that Ettottolima is yet another one of Afri Talent clichés, living in a comfort zone, though sadly bad at doing it.
The script, just in case the production has one is a total replica of another one of their productions, Kigwa Leero, a chaotic tragedy that was staged at the beginning of 2016.
The sub plots are the same, the antagonist is given the same mannerisms and worse still, some people reclaim roles just that their names change.
The later was set at the backdrop of Don Suites and Apartments, an establishment that belonged to one Don Ssensamba, but even when all looked like gold, the family was a troubled one, this time around, the setting was of one Chris who gave us an impression that all was well even when his family was in chaos.
Unlike in Kigwa Leero where the woman of the house is betrayed by her sister who starts moving out with her husband, this time round, she’s betrayed by her sister who we later get to learn was a daughter she had while a teenager.
The absurd thing about this Afri Talent offering is a fact that it’s a play without a lead character to drive the whole show, at any one time, everyone could easily become an antagonist and later a villain – the story (which miserably didn’t exist) kept wandering and so did the characters, spending most of the time running about the stage but not necessarily carrying the story with them.
Things only try to improve when we have an emotional scene that had a character’s pregnancy rejected by the man she loved – Well executed to the dot, she made the audience feel her pain and at some point, cry with her.
But that was it, even before she left the stage, the running around was back, this time with two characters that served as maids in the plot coming to narrate everything we had just seen in the past scene and others from twenty minutes back.
Ettottolima, is a clear sign that some people have stopped taking the entire process of brainstorming to create amazing productions serious, it’s like many would prefer creating a skeleton for a story and body it up with standup comedy only in pretense that they are putting on an act.
Many times actors came on stage not to do a thing to aid the story but crack a joke, and they were indeed many cut away jokes though never helpful.
After almost four hours of a nowhere story, happening to a no where man or making it’s nowhere anticipated excitement for nothing, the production ends with some eye candy deaths and arrests whose backstories are neither explained or exploited to enrich the story.
Glad though, the audience seemed to love it.