Heartstrings hits on the complexities of marriage

Heartstrings' Here comes the Bribe

(From left) Esther Kahuha, Bernice Nthenya, Boeri Bisieri, and Dadson Gakenga in Heartstrings' Here comes the Bribe at Alliance Francaise November 3, 2022. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU | NMG

What do you do when you discover your spouse is cheating on you? Do you cheat yourself by pretending it never happened and carry on with the status quo?

Or do you confront him/her and beg them to stop? Or do you go for the side spouse and tell them to quit, or else. Or else what? That’s when you come out doing something fiercely threatening.

“The other woman’ (or side-chick in today’s vernacular) has been a popular subject in Kenya literature as long ago as the 1960s when the late Grace Ogot wrote a play of the same name.

Phoebe (Bernice Nthenya) in Heartstrings’ latest comedy, Here comes the Bribe staged at Alliance Francaise last week, takes a completely different approach to her spouse’s infidelity.

It’s revealed on the day that she and her hubby John (Maina Fischer) are meant to be celebrating their seventh wedding anniversary. Instead, he goes off with his buddy (Dadson Gakenga) to watch a football match and her girlfriends, Becky (Esther Kahuha) and Caren (Boera Bisieri) come around to share girl-talk.

It is in the course of their chatter that the truth of John’s infidelity comes to light. It turns out Phoebe has known about John’s side-chick for a long time. But she has never let on until today when the subject slips out as she speaks with her girlfriends.

Her friends are both livid, and Becky even begins plotting a plan for assassinating John and his girlfriend. She sounds serious about carrying out her deadly scheme. But then, the side chick, Samantha (Zeitun Salat) arrives at Phoebe’s and John’s house, having been asked to deliver items of makeup that Phoebe had specifically bought from her.

Whether Phoebe had planned for Samantha to arrive just then or it was simply an accident or a serendipitous matter of chance, one cannot be sure. But what is plain is that the side-chick is going to get roasted by Phoebe’s friends.

The roasting comes like hot red heat and blazing verbal fire, blasted on Samantha’s head. It comes first from Becky. But then, the ‘house-manager’, Wamary (Joyce Mathenge) takes over the tirade and makes the home-wrecker’s offenses even uglier and more excruciating for Samantha to feel than ever.

Samantha is cornered on every side, and no one can feel sorry for her or take pity on her either. When she gets asked if she knew all along that John was married, she at least speaks honestly to say she did.

But then she compounds the pain that Phoebe must be feeling by claiming it is she who gives John advice on when and what to buy for his wife after he has brought her all kinds of expensive goodies.

The situation gets even more excruciating when John and his buddy Collo (Dadson Gakenga) arrive home only to find John’s two women in the same room together with Phoebe’s ferocious troops who are prepared to pounce on Samantha and finish her off.

Of course, the heat never quite reaches that point, but now the truth comes to light and it would seem there is no hope for resolution.

The shocker comes when Phoebe comes up with a surprise solution. Samantha will serve as her co-wife and that’s the end of act one. It’s the first shocker of the show.

There will be more to come in act 2 but some in the audience are wondering if the show is over now. That’s not possible since Heartstrings never ends with loose ends untied.

Act two opens and one sees the drudgery, complications, and everyday irritations of marriage. Suddenly, John is uncomfortable with the co-wife who doesn’t know how to handle him or how to meet his every need.

Samantha has been the one catered for by her one-time Sugar Daddy John. Now she finds him a big drag who’s no longer interested in charming a slay-queen. He wants his breakfast on time and all the other details that Phoebe always provided.

Now the realities of married life hit Samantha in the face. And now John has to live with the hellish situation of his own making. All the qualities of Samantha that had once attracted him are now the basis of their incompatibility. Her free spirit and casual ways are now not helpful to his making his way on a day-to-day basis.

Phoebe and Samantha had divided up with duties on a week-by-week basis, and her week is over. She is free to do her thing, and who she’s doing it with is none other than John’s buddy Coll!

PAYE Tax Calculator

Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.