Can a play start a revolution?
Can art affect social change to turn the world upside down in a matter of ‘Man Moments’?
Ask audiences that watched the premiere of Back to Basics’ radical production last weekend. Devised by Mbeki Mwalimu and her B2B company, it was scripted and directed by Nick Ndeda.
Ndeda is a man best known as an actor and radio host. But now he’ll be known for writing a play that makes fun of men’s frailties and reveals women’s unnerving capacity to be unabashed in saying what they think, irrespective of whether they offend men or not.
To his further credit, Nick also directed actors just as genius as he is. All were awesome and had their moments to shine and ‘tickle ribs’. None faltered, not in Act One that revolved around a murder, nor in Act Two that morphed from being a ‘reality show’ hosted by Ian Mbugua, into a ‘game show’ in which three contestants (Bilal Mwaura, Tim King’oo and Ian Mbugua) were literally at the mercy of three women, the show’s host (Wakio Mzenge) and two ‘expert judges’ (Mwikali Mary and Auudi Rowa).
The show had its surrealistic moments, as in Act One when the unfaithful spouse (Tim King’oo) transformed into a hungry wolf who stalked, then got stabbed by his prey, the wife (Auudi Rowa) who had a motive for murdering her man but who also seemed to act in self-defence.
The other surreal bit was the futuristic interlude between acts one and two. It’s apparently a metaphor for the core concern of the play, namely the nature of true manliness.
Ian Mbugua played the last man on earth who could still cry, meaning a man who could empathise and had feelings. A scientific team had set out to find him and collect his tears which were believed to have magical powers to save a human race on the verge of extinction.
Staged with heaps of humour, it was still a scene too deep to be an interlude. It needs to become a whole play.
Nonetheless, it served as a segue into the game show in which the three women shame and sexualise the men in ways meant to mirror what men typically do to women. It was a bit ‘too bawdy’, the women ‘too brash’ for some men. But it was brilliant in my book. I’m calling on B2B to bring us more.