THEATRE REVIEW:DIFFERENT FOREST SAME MONKEYS BY HEARTSTRINGS
Heartstrings Kenya is one of the most popular Kenyan Theatre and stage play Production Company. It is widely known for its quality and mind thrilling productions. The main aim of the production being to entertain and communicate, anyone who has attended any heartstrings production play can bear me witness that it never disappoints.
On 10th April 2013, I got a chance to attend one of its productions taking place at the famous Alliance Francaise. The play dubbed ‘Different Forest Same Monkeys’, written and directed by Sammy Mwangi & Victor Ber was running from the 9th to the 14th of April 2013 at Alliance Francaise. The thing I love about Alliance Francaise is the entire atmosphere. The theatre is high class and the chairs are very comfortable (I have sat on back cracking chairs before and I know the feeling). I knew the play would give me a good laugh when I saw the title but didn’t know that the laugh would not be just a one day laugh but a lifetime one.
The play is an overview of the just concluded elections. It is a recap of some of the things that took place during the election period, what the international press was expecting and life in government offices after the newly elected resume to office. This was presented in a comic way that made it all hilarious.
The setting is early in the morning at around 4am. It is the official voting day and voters have turned out in large numbers at one Muthokijo Primary school. Whereas the official voting start time is 6am, voters are already at the queue by 4am (I am sure you can relate with this if you were in the queue by 3am like me and left at 2pm). One of the voters has been at the polling station for the past 3 days (This I call craziness). A pregnant woman is offered to take the lead in the queue but declines stating that she wants to give birth while on the queue just to make news (seriously??). Another woman (a Mama Sophia) turns up carrying an adult man on her back and goes direct to the front of the queue. When the others complain, she does not hesitate to tell them that women carrying babies are given the first priority. In this case, her husband, whom she is carrying, is her “baby” (buahahah). This scene shows the loyalty of Kenyans. How they sacrifice their sleep to vote for their preferred candidates. This act ends with the arrival of the IEBC team.
The second act brings out the role of journalists in general elections. The play shows a comical occurrence of what the media especially the international media was expecting to happen during the elections. The journalist explains how fights, bloodshed and even mass killings are some of the things expected to take place. While reporting, the journalist gives the viewers a totally different account of the happenings. In one instance where an interviewee says that she stepped accidentally on a pregnant woman’s toe, this is reported as a stampede that left a pregnant woman with broken legs!(This is shocking) This reminds me of how in the journalistic world bad things make the best news. Journalists are known to have an eye for.
The third scene is a setting inside a house. Baba and Mama Sophia are the owners of the house and are seated waiting for some members of their “Chama” to arrive. Meet Carol, their shy house-girl who has the most horrible walking stylesx I have ever witnessed in my life (She walks like a drunk giraffe). When the Chama members start arriving, you can tell the unity that exists among them all.
This is one part where you will laugh until you crack your ribs. The actors are all funny and it’s tricky to tell who is the funniest of all. Also, meet John their errand man whose use of “huge” English words (Vocabulary) that others do not understand is evident. The chairman proposes that they watch the tallying process before proceeding to the Business of the day. The Chama members voted for different people and this stirs an argument that almost breaks into a fight. They hurl names at each other and go tribal. People who were previously united turn enemies in a flash of a second due to political differences. This is a representation of how political differences can turn friends into the worst enemies ever.
In the following act, the subject of social media as a tool to spread tribalism and enmity is captured. The Chama members send each other abusive messages over Facebook. Many people on facebook use fake names and pictures (I hope you are not one). This makes it impossible for the members to know that they are actually abusing each other. Caught up in the mix is Baba and Mama Sophia who abuse each other unknowingly. They agree to meet and fight each other face to face not knowing what shock awaits them. This places their marriage on shaky ground. Baba Sophia rules that all the chairs and every other valuable thing in the house belong to him while the empty space belongs to Mama Sophia. Baba Sophia’s visitors sit on the chairs while those of Mama Sophia stand in the empty space. This causes them to divorce as the entire Chama breaks up completely.
The last Scene is a setting of government offices. It brings out the vulgarity of government employees in public offices. The office in the setting is specifically the funds office. Members of the public visit the office to get the promised funds by the reigning government. Instead of attending to the public, the officers abuse them and criticize them arrogantly. In one instance, a skinny lady visits the offices and they criticize her badly. One of the officers says that they should run a Kenyan for a Kenyan charity for her and buy her food to eat while the other one says that she looks like “A walking spaghetti”. This lady however bursts them in their own game and hurls names at them (this part is one hilarious). They at the end surrender and she commands them to attend to the members of the public which they do without question. This scene marks the end of the play.
This is one compelling play that keeps you glued to your seat and laughing like a crazy idiot. The writer is able to send his message right as well as entertain the audience at every instance of the play. This play will definitely make you laugh and laugh and laugh until you cannot stop laughing. It is a play worth watching especially if you are one person in need of a crazy laugh.
Play Rating; 8/10
Written by Neomy John