Mugambi Nthige is a busy man, directing the return of Too Early for Birds Tom Mboya edition November 9 and starring in last weekend’s production of Duncan MacMillan’s Every Brilliant Thing at the Cradle Festival at Lava Latte.
Previously staged by Davino Leonard, both performances were amazing. But Mugambi had the advantage of context since the Festival was all about raising awareness regarding mental illness, especially depression and suicide.
So Mugambi’s audience was primed to appreciate his ‘one-man’ show about a boy who had to cope with those specific issues all his life.
The script itself blends depression and delight as the boy grows up in the shadow of his mum’s attempted suicides.
Mugambi pays more attention to delighting his audience with the way he engages them, one by one, allowing his story to unfold through interactions with crucial characters in the boy’s life as he transitions into adulthood.
They include the Vet who euthanizes his beloved dog (foreshadowing the death that’s bound to come), the Dad who copes with his wife’s depression with music, the Teacher whose puppet Bosco enables the boy to pour out his feelings and the Girlfriend-Wife Sam who loves the delightful man but cannot cope with his bouts of depression.
By accident or design, Mugambi engages two of his fellow thespians to be his Dad (Elsaphan Njora) and Sam (Auudi Rowa), both of whom add to the charm of this play which grapples with problems that today have become epidemic not only in Kenya but worldwide.
Every Brilliant Thing offers hope of raising awareness and ideally eliminating the problem of suicide with its message in the end.
However, Mugambi never quite convinced us his character ever really got depressed. But his joy, especially at meeting and falling for Sam was genuine. Kodos for that!