Scaling the heights of hilarity with their distinct brand of humour, the Festival of Creative Arts hit the jackpot this past weekend with Mbeki Mwalimu’s Dangerous Affairs at the Alliance Francaise.
Specialists in a Kenyan style of slapstick comedy, the only thing ‘dangerous’ about Dangerous Affairs is the threat of losing Uncle Jonathan’s (Robert Agengo) million shilling gift meant for his dead friend’s sole heir.
With assistance from his lawyer (Justin Mwichi), the rich old man Jon has changed his Will to leave a chunk of his wealth to Billy Kilonzo (Mwangi Ng’ang’a), the son of his dead business partner.
Jon feels he owes Billy that much out of appreciation for his late father’s role in helping him establish their lucrative business. But Jon’s spinster sister Margaret (Rosemary Waweru) is the only one who thinks the gift is excessive; but she doesn’t interfere, except to try and make Jon stop drinking, which is a losing battle.
The only caveat Uncle Jon makes to Billy’s receiving the money is assurance that Billy is the only son of his former partner. If there’s more than one, the deal is off.
As it turns out, the Kilonzo kids are triplets, although none of the three knows about the existence of the others. They were separated at birth but having read about Uncle Jon’s remarkable gift, all three arrive on the scene, intent on collecting their uncle’s money.
Needless to say, it’s in none of their interest to let Uncle Jon know there’s not one but three Kilonzo heirs, so the core of the comedy revolves around keeping the facts hidden from Jon, at least until after the old man hands over the dough.
Billy himself is a village idiot whose friend Juma (Juma William) also heard about the gift and plans to pick a portion (if not all) of it by any means in his power.
Impersonating Billy’s lawyer, Juma accompanies Billy to Uncle Jon’s home where the old man lives with his sister and daughter Jennifer (Janet Kirina).
But even before they arrive, the humour heats up with the clever (and cute) househelp Bobo (Brenda Wairimu) raiding her boss’s liquor cabinet, meanwhile playing dumb and deferential with an imperious Margaret and her sweet niece, Jennifer.
As it turns out, there’s a birthday party planned for Jennifer so there are festive preparations underway by the time Billy and Juma arrive to collect Billy’s million.
Seated in his wheelchair, Jon is all set to sign over the cash but that plan gets postponed for various reasons; meanwhile Billy’s look-alike brother William shows up on the scene, followed by Billy’s wife Winnie, both of whom will lose Billy’s chance to get the money since the heir also is meant to be single.
Juma’s the one who takes on the task of keeping William and Winnie away from Uncle Jon and the rest, but the task is daunting for Juma once Jennifer gets a glimpse of William and is instantly attracted to him. Winnie makes matters worse since she’s irrepressible with her good news — she’s just found out she’s pregnant.
Then when the third triplet Michael shows up, the challenge of keeping the facts concealed from Jon is almost impossible.
The one saving grace for the Kilonzo boys is the fact that all three look alike, despite their being completely unalike in character.
Billy’s the buffoon while William’s the stiff but well groomed gentleman who falls for Jennifer, and Michael’s the professional con artist who ultimately makes off with the cash.
To Mwaura Nganga’s credit, his triplets truly feel like completely different characters. It’s highly improbable that Uncle Jon won’t catch on to Billy’s not being the only Kilonzo, and as such, his million won’t be going anywhere, or so you’d assume.
As for keeping the truth from Jon and Margaret, Juma finds a strategic ally in Bobo who’s an expert in outwitting the family — She’s also brilliant at extracting petty cash from Juma while they conspire to keep the siblings in the dark.
It’s in the midst of all the mayhem that Michael makes off with the cash. The joke’s on all the rest who’d conspired to collect Uncle Jonathan’s cash.
It was a risky, or rather a ‘dangerous’ game that they were playing, but the craftiest con man of all is the one made off with the spoils.
Meanwhile, William got his girl and Billy had always wanted to be a dad, so this rather silly story ended on a happy note. And as for Jon, apparently a million was a drop in the bucket for him, so he was no worse off for his loss.