Art

Serious issues behind ‘The Closet’ humour

liquid-arts
margarettawagacheru_img

Summary

  • Scripted, produced, and directed by Tosh, The Closet is all about the truths that people stash away behind a closet door to keep out of the public’s gaze.
  • Usually, things stored are either dirty, untidy, socially unacceptable or simply stuff you don’t want others to know about what you do and think.
  • Apart maybe from your closest friend. But in Tosh’s ‘Closet’, even the best friend, Edwin (Brian Irungu) has a secret he hasn’t shared with his BFF Biko (Joel Muno), the guy with the biggest closet.

Peter Tosh had a lot of nerve. Why?

Because he and his theatre company, Liquid Arts Entertainment, had the guts to be the first to come out in public – not on Zoom, Skype, Instagram, or Twitter -- to put up a show at Kenya National Theatre.

They are not the first to stage a live performance this year in the City Centre. Maasai Mbili gave one at Alliance Francaise, but theirs felt more improvised and informal than The Closet.

Scripted, produced, and directed by Tosh, The Closet is all about the truths that people stash away behind a closet door to keep out of the public’s gaze.

Usually, things stored are either dirty, untidy, socially unacceptable or simply stuff you don’t want others to know about what you do and think.

Apart maybe from your closest friend. But in Tosh’s ‘Closet’, even the best friend, Edwin (Brian Irungu) has a secret he hasn’t shared with his BFF Biko (Joel Muno), the guy with the biggest closet.

So the title is clearly a metaphor for keeping secrets and telling lies. In polite circles, keeping such secrets is called ‘being discrete’. Among the rest of us, it’s called cheating.

And that’s what our protagonist Biko is all about. He’s also known as a ‘player’ to Edwin, otherwise known as a womanizer, Casanova or cad.

Biko fits all those terms since he is not only married to Alice (Martha Wangui). He’s messing around, according to Edwin, with numbers of women, not only Melisa (Irene Njenga), latest in a long line of Biko’s lovers.

We only meet Melisa who Biko assures Edwin, is the last sweetheart to whom he has lied about being single and seriously committed himself to her. Now, he claims, he has met his perfect woman and wants her to be his wife.

Problem is, Biko already has one wife who we first meet at Edwin’s hotel where she’s a lady on fire. She’s angry about their marriage and how he’s jobless, lazy, and using her to pay the rent and other things.

Clearly, theirs is an unhappy affair. But when she meets her long-lost friend Melisa at Edwin’s, she claims her marriage is pure bliss. She can’t afford to tarnish her public image of being happily married, which for Kenya women seems to be a point of pride.

Melisa has a similar fantasy man to talk about as she describes her fiancé (since Biko has already proposed). She even utters his name, but the two women don’t realise their Biko is the same person.

When Alice figures it out, she is livid. But she is still not prepared to accept the divorce papers Biko hands her in the next scene. Instead, when Melisa suddenly shows up on the scene, the two women get into a cat fight that the audience loves. Even I, who hate to see women fight, find their wrestling amusing. It’s one of the many light touches that Tosh builds into a script that otherwise deals with serious marital issues like infidelity and deceit.

Then the moment of reckoning arrives when Melisa wants to know who Biko really loves? Does he still love Alice? When he can’t answer straight away, Alice looks relieved, but Melisa is now stuck.

The only person to swing into motion is ironically Edwin who jumps at the chance to now confess his love for Alice (the secret he has stashed away in his closet). Now is her moment to set Biko loose and get hitched with him.

But now, rather than anybody clarifying their intentions, the play ends abruptly as Biko and Alice leave together while Edwin and Melisa are left just like that.

There’s now a debate about whether this tale ends as a cliff-hanger, leaving us not knowing who ends up with whom? Were Alice and Biko going off to finalise their divorce or to renew their vows? Would Melisa finally end up with her fiancé or be left high and dry? And would poor Edwin, who had suffered in silence all those years, be left the lonely one, with simply a hotel to attend.

But then, there are those who claim the ending was clever and clear. People’s intentions, although subtly conveyed, came across implicitly to anyone who were reading carefully between Tosh’s lines.

They felt there was no question but that there would be a happy ending for Biko and Alice. They will reconcile and the rest will get by.