Comedy Comes to Nairobi in April 2013

HAVE AN APPETITE FOR COMEDY IN APRIL BY margaretta wa Gacheru Not Published in Saturday Nation, April 7, 2013 Comedy will be the calling card of Kenyan theatre throughout the month of April, starting with Heartstrings Kenya which opened last Wednesday night, April 3rd, at Alliance Francaise in yet another original script devised and directed by Sammy Mwangi and Victor Ber. [Sammy Mwangi directing Different Forest, Same Monkeys] Given Heartstrings’ inclination to pick up on the most pertinent, political and provocative news items of the day, then craft them into crazy scripts that capture the humour, irony and outrageous antics of local characters, it’s no surprise that Mwangi and Ber examines the recent elections from the ground up in Different Forest, Same Monkeys. It’s the perfect sort of show to defuse post-election tensions and reveal the reality that all Kenyans are Kenyans at the end of the day. Comedy continues across town at the Phoenix Players where yet another script writer, Robin Denault has devised and directed his play, Love by Shakespeare. It’s an adaptation of not one but three of Shakespeare’s originals, namely A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello and Romeo and Juliet. How the playwright can craft comedy out of two tragic love tales and one of the Bard’s most fantastic comedic farces is something to behold. This production is also well-timed since Nairobians are definitely in the mood to be entertained with theatre that allows them to release a bit of the tension many felt throughout the month of March. Premised on the notion that characters from Midsummer Night’s Dream “escape” the world conceived by Shakespeare and land in ours, the AMND crew arrive on the Phoenix stage like aliens from outer space, intent on clarifying who exactly Shakespeare really was. To them, he was not a hopeless romantic as one might imagine watching Romeo and Juliet or Othello, both of which end badly. Rather, they see him as a scoundrel who enjoyed manipulating the emotions of his audiences, especially those who believe in romantic love. The cast aims to convince us through humour, argument and wit that the joke has been on us. Shakespeare’s characters will continue ‘invading’ the Phoenix stage from April 21st through May 4th when The Theatre Company returns to Nairobi with its Kiswahili version of The Merry Wives of Windsor, Wanawake wa Heri wa Winsa. The production which Keith Pearson and TTC first took to London to perform during the 2012 Olympics has been on tour all over Kenya and now return for those who might have missed this hilarious show (replete with marvellous physical comedy) when it first came back to Nairobi. But even those who have seen the production before ought to see it again, that is, if they are among Nairobians who feel the need to see the Bard in a new light and to have a good laugh. Meanwhile, over at the Kenya National Theatre for three nights only, from April 12th through 14th, the Festival of Creative Arts will stage their indigenised adaptation of Ray Cooney’s comedy, Funny Money, entitled Catch Me If You Can. It’s all about two couples who stumble onto a fortune – apparently stolen and stashed in the thieves’ secret hiding place. What some Kenyans may find especially amusing about this show is the couples’ kleptomaniac conniving to keep the cash. Operating from the premise of ‘finders keepers, losers weepers’, once again, FCA will bring us a show that is bound to tickle people’s funny bone. Finally, a fortnight later the Friends Ensemble will stage another British comedy that they have adapted and indigenised. Called Home is where your clothes are, Friends will also be on the comedic bandwagon this month.

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