I admire Talanta Yetu, but it must be said that farce is not the equivalent to overacting. And I saw a lot of the latter in their latest production, Our Prophet says he is dead.
Scripted and directed by Joseph Murunga, his farce had a credible plot line, especially in Kenya where we have many “prophet and conmen” like Prophet Pius Power (Fanuel Mulwa) who wants to die and rise again like Jesus Christ.
He is working with a doctor who’s agreed to provide the drugs to make it happen. But the antidote must be taken punctually to ensure the nearly fatal drug’s effect is not permanent.
We meet Pius in a hotelroom, but wonder why he’d choose that location to “die”. Wouldn’t it arouse suspicions?
Then there’s “Doctor” Kiti (Sybil Mukandutite) who’s got a white hospital coat. But her short jumpsuit and chewing gum aren’t exactly a professional’s style.
Yet Pius doesn’t detect anything strange. Nor does he recognise Kiti as a girl he impregnated 18 years before. It is his life on the line but he is so full of himself, he doesn’t realise he could be conned just as easily as he cons others.
Pius eventually learns that not only Kiti, but even his wife Patricia (Mary Kimani) and church parishioner Imanass (Clement Ochieng) are cheating him.
None of their tricks are exposed until Kiti tells Pius “a story”. This is where the confusion comes. She says she tried the drugs on a conman once before but he died. Then she relates the tale. But it’s not clear whether it’s a flashback or a farcical dream scenario.
It’s confusing but the playwright apparently felt it appropriate for farce. But however absurd a farce can be, there needs to be an underlying logic.
As the play ended, I was not sure if Pius really died (since he never gets the antidote in the “dream”, or he merely collapsed in shock at discovering Kiti got him to sign away millions to her, Imanass and Patricia?