Joseph Babu Wairimu and Tash Mitambo were both brilliant last Sunday night at Kenya National Theatre’s Ukumbi Mdogo. They both gave a sterling two-hander performance of Scott Perry’s play, Bookends. But I confess: It was Babu who made me weep, so touching did I find his tragic portrait of Bill the old widower.
The story was such a poignant tale about loneliness and old age that it’s no wonder it was at times painful to watch. But there were also hilarious moments, as when they each took their turn dancing like teenagers as they reminisced on the past.
Two old men having nowhere to go apart from one park bench where they would meet regularly at 5pm. That meeting constituted the whole of their social life. It was also what they apparently both lived for up until that time.
And yet Babu’s character Bill clearly understood he needed more in life, especially when he found his friend Ron was unreliable. He’d absented him from their bench for three whole weeks without a word.