Entanglement: Potentially a great play that needs better scriptingFriday January 27 2023
Victor Muyekwe hit the nail squarely when he named his new play Entanglement. I felt entangled in the play from the moment it opened and two people were standing in a shadowy space, shouting at one another for no clearcut cause.
The woman is embittered by something the man has told her, making her vengeful and enraged. By the play’s end, we return to these two, still arguing but now in ‘real time’. What we had just watched was a flashback.
Yet while we have gone full circle, I still feel entangled by a whole lot of loose ends left dangling and multiple questions raised that I didn’t get answers to.
I normally do not rip new scripts to shreds. But I encourage Muyekwe to head back to the drawing board to help us understand what transpired in his play.
To give an overview, I think Entanglement is about several stories of duplicity and betrayal.
For one, there is a wedding that is about to take place; yet the fiancé, ironically named Innocent (Michael Wafula) is in love with another woman. So why marry Velma (Melissa Karimi) and not his lover Jael (Joy Kairu)?
We eventually learn that there is an elaborate secret plan between the fiancé, his lover, and a man named Onesmus who desperately needs money to pay for an operation.
So why are they expecting Innocent to get money from Velma, his new wife, once he marries her?
We are left guessing that perhaps when Velma’s father died, he left her an heiress with heaps of money that Innocent can somehow grab.
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But that is never stated, nor do we know how Innocent will obtain access to her cash. Was she going to be poisoned? Or what? Was he going to get her to change her will?
At one point, Onesmus promises to provide passports to both Innocent and Jael so they can flee the country once they get funds sufficient for both Onesmus’s procedure and Innocent’s flight.
And why when Velma learns the night before their wedding that he slept in her living room with Jael, did she say she still wanted to marry him?
And how could the fiancé, once wedded to Velma do a complete turn-around and cancel the whole scheme, leaving Onesmus high and dry, and leaving his former lover out in the cold?
We are told finally that Onesmus wanted the money to pay for his daughter Patricia’s operation.
But why hadn’t he told his wife the daughter’s diagnosis which he had obtained several months before?
Was it really because he was jobless and ashamed to tell his wife until he could raise the cash?
And finally, there is the issue of who is who and what connections they have with one another. For instance, how are Innocent and Onesmus connected? Are they brothers? We are never told.
And what kind of relationship does Velma have with Tellah, Mama Patricia and Onesmus? Initially, it looks like she is their daughter, but then Velma tells Jael that she met Innocent at her father’s funeral.
They have been together ever since, so had Innocent been after her money from the start? We can only surmise whether he was or not.
And what sort of relationship did Velma have with Jael? Did they only meet through Innocent, or were they best friends before?
It would seem they had known each other before Innocent came on the scene, yet we don’t know. And why were two important scenes never seen on stage?
There was the actual marriage, which slips by without our seeing such an important event. There was also the sickly child Patricia who we hear from her mom, Tellah, how her little girl died in her arms because she didn’t get the procedure required to save her life.
Entanglement was a difficult play to watch specifically because there are so many gaps we would have liked to see filled.
But the play has immense potential, only that the script could be workshopped and revised. One feels the skeleton of an interesting script is there.
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But there is one thing I would suggest being omitted. It is the big bulky blanket that came out to shield the audience from witnessing the intimacy between Innocent and Jael in Onesmus’ living room.
The lights went out in any case, and we the audience already saw which way the couple were moving so there was no need for the ‘cover up’.