In Fall Back Plan, Crony Players once again come across as a combination of comedy, improvisation, satire, and theatre of the absurd.
There is also a message somewhere buried deep inside it all, which finally breaks out openly in the last scene.
But when the improvisation gets to be too much, and the banter goes on a bit too long, then I can’t help wishing that a punch line would come sooner than later.
Starting off at Central Police where, if anyone has ever been there, they have seen similar antics played out by the cops at the front desk as we saw at Alliance Francaise last weekend but one, when Cyprian Osoro, Humphrey Maina, and Victor Nyaati portraited policemen on the take and masterfully casting off concerns of everyone coming to them to ask for their help.
One has to admit, most Kenyan police men are fast-footed, even performative. They know when to be polite and when to bully for a bribe.
One suspects they even understand the rule of law under the Constitution.
But unfortunately, the public has seen too many instances of police corruption to trust they will serve the public dutifully.
It’s that reality of policemen’s penchant for neglecting their jobs, and instead, looking for cagey means of collecting cash that we saw in act one of Fall Back Plan.
It was almost painful to watch how well these cops (Osoro, Maina, Nyaata, and even Nick Kwach) played games with people’s lives.
It was good satire on Kenya police, seeing them as schemers and thieves, as they put off ordinary people coming for their aid; our cops did everything in their power not to meet the people’s needs.
Something as simple as a guy wanting to record a statement in the big book of record became a major drama in which the guy only got one big run around, and no statement.
Even the guy who came in to report an accident was ignored. The fellow came back more than once, but none of the policemen on duty took note.
It was only when Maina learned about the incident over the police radio that he took note.
His brother was meant to be in that vicinity. Could he have been an that accident? Suddenly, he disappears and the curtain comes down on act one.
In act two, we shift to a hospital where we find the same sort of negligence for public service played out as people wait patiently to be served.
Yet the service doesn’t come. Instead, the doctor and nurse and even the cleaner (Osoro) chatter on.
But then, we learn that this is where they brought Maina’s brother as he indeed was in the car crash.
Act three takes us to the church where there’s an MC and several family friends of Maina and his brother who is the man meant to be prayed for and commemorated.
More banter starts to flow, mixed with bickering. But that is finally put to a sudden stop when the decease’s daughter (who we met briefly in act one) rises up and demands attention.
She (Marion Wambui) is going to tell them all off. All in her view were responsible for her father’s demise.
Having been present to see the police men’s conduct (she had been waiting for her dad at Central Police), she knew first hand, that her dad never had a chance.
Only Maina paid attention, but that was only when he realized his brother, her dad, might be one of the casualties.
If the police had done their job and cleared the traffic jam that surrounded the accident, her dad might be alive today, she noted. Her anger was palpable and her message was plain.
Corruption can have far-reaching consequences, including issues of life and death. What is the ‘fall back plan’ when the public services meant to help the people out don’t serve? Is the only recourse to die? Or it is a more political move to demand change.
Crony Players raise important issues in Fall Back Plan. The group needs to increase their script, possibly even put it in writing, and not leave the show largely loose and dependent on improvisation which tends to drag on too long and slow down the action of the play.
Forgive me for lecturing, but this has been my issue from the beginning. I look forward to Crony moving forward and giving us more thought-provoking shows like Fall Back Plan.