Theatre Review: The Good, the Bad and the Kenyan

Reviewed by Faith Oneya

If there is anything that Heartstrings Kenya has a flair for, then it is for expertly playing on Kenyan stereotypes as is evident in the most recent show that promised to “shutter our guts”. If the reaction from the audience is anything to go by, then the production lived up to its promise.

In characteristic style, the play begins with a narrator, this time the able Allan Weku, who regales the audience with hilarious

Allan Weku, the narrator

anecdotes of being Kenyan. Of particular note is his narration of his internet dating experience, a story delivered so expertly to an appreciative audience that one cannot help but conclude that this man has carved a style that works for him  despite having to fill the role previously played by the larger than life Larry Asego and the seasoned thespian Obilo ‘Mkame’ Ng’ongo .

In the first scene, we see Kenyans at a funeral where women and men alike come to show off (cars, clothes) and eat. One after the other, the actors recount funerals they have been to where there was good food…or where there was not and even go on to discuss what people would eat at their own funerals! Paul Ogola (who also plays the role of a father, teacher and a husband) carries this scene and impeccably delivers punch line after punch line, constantly leaving the audience in stitches.

The funeral scene with Paul Ogola(Far Right) working his magic

As the different scenes unfold and the style of using Kenyan stereotypes gains currency, it becomes evident that the play is not just about stereotypes. The directors of the play offer the audience an opportunity to laugh at themselves while reflecting on the deeper meanings of the ridiculous scenes borrowing heavily from contemporary Kenyan societal ills: From rotten politics, to the increasing suicide rates, unscrupulous preachers , corruption among Kenyan policemen, strikes  and youth unemployment.

The set of the play, in true improvisation theatre style that Heartstrings subscribe to, is devoid of any elaborate props, with the most being a table and chair one corner, which the narrator uses from time to time. The set also benefits from an eager cartoonist who uses chalk to draw freakish cartoon characters on the walls of the stage. Different catch phrases on the cartoons in keeping with  the ‘Kenyanness’ theme.

Students on strike!Paul Ogutu(far right) in his role as a school boy

Other noteworthy performances in the play come from Humphrey Maina (who also acts in a local TV production ‘Papa Shirandula’ and Paul Ogutu. Humphrey plays the roles of a father, a hustler and a preacher effortlessly and Paul Ogutu puts on convincingly hilarious Luo and Kisii accents first as a ‘hustler’ and then as a school boy.

If you are looking to unwind and laugh your head off or ‘shutter your guts’ this weekend, then this is the play for you.

Directed by : Sammy Mwangi and Victor Ber

Conceptualized by :Dan Ndambuki aka Churchill

Venue: Alliance Francaise
Times: Weekdays 630pm. Weekends 3pm & 630pm
Charges; 500/
TICKET SUPER HOTLINE:  call 0721608656

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Author: Faith Oneya

Lover of the written and spoken word.

6 thoughts on “Theatre Review: The Good, the Bad and the Kenyan”

  1. Yes,i agree this one was value for money and the time you spend there,i cant remember when i stopped laughing during the play.I would totally watch the play again just to get another good laugh if need be.
    For all its intend,four colleagues from my office will also be catching up with the good,the bad,and the Kenyan this weekend since they cant stand my descriptions about how it was!!When a play is smart,entertaining;person to person advertisement really works and i am sure the hall will still be packed this weekend when everyone will be trying to catch it live.
    I guess we need more of this kind to unwind after a busy day and go home when the traffic is manageable,otherwise if the play is boring;you would rather spend your time in traffic and find yourself home than wasting your dime.

  2. I really enjoyed the whole Play!!! Why lie? Can watch It over and over again!!! Roles very well executed man! I almost thought I was actually in the real Kenya where those scenes happen!!!!!

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