There was just one flaw in FCA’s latest show, ‘Secrets and Lies’. It was that they produced the same British script at Alliance Francaise last weekend as Heartstrings staged just a few weeks before.
The productions were slightly different as titles were changed and the cheating spouse was a rich man (Joe Kinyua) in the FCA production while the same sort of sweet talking cheater was a poor man in Heartstrings’.
But both opened with the hen-pecked husband (Bilal Mwaura Nganga as Sam for FCA) muttering to himself about how he’d tell his wife (Mwajuma Belle) emphatically that he was not going on a second honeymoon, despite her having booked tickets to the Coast.
And in the same way as Heartstrings’ hen-pecked hubby had a bossy wife, Sam’s spouse Maggie was also a bully.
There are other variations in the adapted scripts. For instance, in ‘Secrets and Lies,’ the spouse who discovered her husband Bernard (Kinyua) was cheating is Maggie’s sister Fareda (Valentine Wambui) whereas Heartstrings’ equivalent is not a sister but a good friend.
I won’t elaborate further, just to say there must be lessons that local companies can learn from such mishaps. One is to keep an eye out for what other troupes are doing so you don’t duplicate.
But the smartest way to avoid such faux pas’ is to be original! Write your own scripts or devise them through the workshopping process.
To their credit, Eliud Abuto and Nice Githinji (FCA’s producer and director of S&L) did adapt the script differently from Heartstrings’ version.
For instance, there was no raucous disco-styled dance scene in S&L, only provocative conversation between Fareda and boyfriend J-Sticks (Nathan Kimani) and talk of the Kamasutra by his buddy, FCA newcomer Karim Nathoo, which intimidated Maggie but was well received by last weekend’s AF audience.
In the end, what seemed to matter most to FCA fans (most of whom may not have seen Heartstrings’ production) was the quality of acting and the storyline which was witty with a titillating edge to it. All that was there in Secrets & Lies.
Meanwhile, Heartstrings’ current show (through Sunday) at AF ‘Once Bitten, Twice Shy’ is a peculiar mix of humour and haunted house-styled morbidity.
It’s revealing of the ‘second spouse syndrome’ in that Patrick (Victor Nyaata) is nasty toward his second wife Ruth’s (Makryn Andala) son (Cyprian Osoro).
But Ruth is also annoyed by his constant reference to the deceased wife Millicent (Adelyne Karuga) who returns from the dead to get her husband.