Son of Man’s production of ‘Paramour’ is among the first straight plays of 2023 that I found impressive at so many levels.
Taking place recently (February 19, 2023) at Ukumbi Mbogo’s tiny stage, one felt such an explosive set of subjects being dealt with in Mavin Kibicho’s [discerning] script merited more space.
Yet the minimalist approach to addressing such topics as corruption, infidelity, economic sabotage, and blackmail gained intensity by being played out in the living room of Dave and Abby, one of the two married couples that are the focus of Paramour.
Young, ambitious, and equally handsome and beautiful, both couples, including Haroun and Beth, are best buddies as well as the men being business partners as they each are lawyers working at the same law firm.
The firm is actually Dave’s so the moment the two arrive Dave’s home, one gets the feeling that it is Haroun who looks up to his friend for his genius legal skills.
Yet what we also learn at the outset is that Dave is a hustler intent on getting ahead by any means necessary, literally.
Dave may look like an amiable guy, but Jeff Omondi plays this complex character with a not-so-subtle shrewdness that will finally reveal his true character as being sociopathic.
But we don’t see it clearly at the outset. Nor do we immediately take note that Dave is a shortened form of David and Beth is short for Bathsheba, two Old Testament characters with a shocking story of their own.
Beth’s husband is Haroun which is somewhat similar to the name of Bathsheba’s first husband Uriah, a man whom King David had murdered so he could marry the dead man’s wife.
Once it hits you that Paramour is something of a morality play, you have to appreciate Kibicho’s way of modernizing and indigenizing that Scriptural story.
It’s embellished with an angry wife of David (Leila Kare) who early on detects that her spouse is unfaithful, but she doesn’t know with whom.
The relationship between Dave and Beth also is ignited, not by his seeing his future wife in the bath, but by hearing the beautiful singing voice of Beth and interpreting her charm as a come-on to Dave.
Speaking to the playwright after the play, we spoke about the hot affair between Dave and Beth.
Kibicho told BDLife that we both may recall Bathsheba wasn’t wholly innocent in her involvement with David. And Naomi Wairimu makes that subtle point clear in the way she also plays with Dave before he seduces her in his home while Abby is away.
In the first act of Paramour, Dave is already revealed as a corrupt character who bribes a financial officer to obtain confidential information that enables him to win his legal case for his client.
But he is a dirty player from the start. So when we see him lying to his wife, luring another woman into his bed, and even advising her to abort his baby rather than be exposed as the father of his best friend’s child, we are not surprised.
But then when Dave goes on to plan the poisoning of Haroun, (just as David devised a scheme to ensure Uriah would die on the battle field), we agree that Dave is a sociopath who doesn’t care for anyone but himself.
I’ve always marveled at how forgiving David’s God was after he’d stooped so low on the morality grid. But God did forgive David. Not so Dave’s women.
Beth had genuinely loved her husband and we felt the depth of her painful shame as we watched her weep while Haroun died in her arms.
Abby had already informed Dave that if she found out he was cheating, she would slice him into little bits.
But he was hardly threatened by her indignant outbursts. And even after she caught him on tape as he confessed that he had impregnated Beth and murdered Haroun, his counter-threats felt far more sinister and authentic.
That is why, after Beth found his poison, she and Abby agreed that finishing him with the same stuff that he used to finish Haroun was fair.
This is where Kibicho breaks out of the Biblical mould and shifts into the modern-day revenge felt by women who have been scorned.
These two had previously looked like they were satisfied with being simply wives of ambitious men.
But as it turns out, they both felt justified doing away with a man whom they saw as the Satanic embodiment of evil and sin.