Hearts of Art presented a compelling sequel to the show Necessary Madness that showed in 2018.
Necessary Madness 2: Deliberate Contempt boasted of a star-studded cast with the likes of Gilbert Lukhalia, Peter Kawa, Sam Psenjen, Veronica Waceke, Melissa Kiplagat, Jackie Kaboi and Mufasa the Poet.
The play was written by Walter Sitati and directed by Carol Odongo.
This story picks up from the manhunt for Officer Dakarai. He is accused of causing the death of two civilians; one a pregnant woman on her way to hospital and the other the Governor’s daughter through a matatu accident.
He runs to the only person who can save him; the Chief Commanding Officer Shabaka. The conversation that ensues establishes that Dakarai is on his own, basically because he wasn’t “smart”.
Had he minded his own business and focused on meeting his daily quota of bribes to his superiors, his fate would be different.
On the other side of town, the Governor has just lost his only daughter to the matatu accident.
His major concern apart from giving his daughter an honorable send-off is to use her death as a campaign tool.
His plans are foiled by his father (Desai) who takes over the funeral and Officer Dakarai’s wife (Lesedi) who files a class action suit that might finally see him step down.
The story is a timely reflection of our society, plainly portraying the state of affairs on the ground. It gives a two-sided view of things; the corrupt police on our roads but also the abject poverty that forces them into that circumstance.
The activist wife doing good for her people while at home she is a stranger to her family.
The characters are multi-dimensional and easily relatable. Governor Zuri is the typical bull-headed politician whose only goal in office is to accumulate as much wealth as possible; yet we see glimpses of how his humble background shaped the man he is.
Even the lesser characters such as the Nurse and Doctor in the run down county hospital appear to be heartless to the plight of their patients, but it is the lack of resources that has whittled down their humanity to this point.
The constant tension keeps one glued to the story, wondering what happens next. For instance, when Officer Dakarai asks his longtime partner Officer Tamela to act as a character witness, it’s uncertain whether she’ll be willing to testify truthfully especially because she sees him as a traitor.
When Lesedi decides to build a case against not only the Governor but her husband as well, one isn’t sure what this means for their marriage.
Besides powerful stories we also go for the performances.
The crowd favourites were Governor Zuri and Amare played by Benson Ojuwa and Allan Wasike respectively. Officers Dakarai and Tamela played by Peter Kawa and Pauline Kyalo were exceptional.
Kelvin Njema and Tracy Amadi, playing the Doctor and Nurse, gave noteworthy performances while Steve Gitau gave a believable portrayal of a matatu tout who attempts to and eventually succeeds in getting himself out of a bind with Officer Tamela.
Patient Zero played by Mufasa brought the audience to life with finger snaps, tears and claps. He became the hero that spoke passionately on our behalf.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
The play was long. I kept on shifting in my seat and trying to remember where we were in the story.
There were parts that felt unnecessary, such as the bits with the Governor’s daughter’s ghost talking to her friend, Nyssa. Those felt like they were straight out of a Nigerian film, complete with the soundtrack.
Maintaining the energy and pace of a show like this is not easy and I do applaud the whole cast for finishing well.
It is however hard to ignore when a scene drags because some actors are not in sync or simply not totally sold to their characters.
Alison Chemiat plays Zola, the youngest daughter of Dakarai and Lesedi. She has managed to get a pass because she is also the youngest in the Hearts of Art team but will need deliberate direction, especially on diction and maintaining character, if she is to grow as an actor.
Veronica Waceke (Lesedi) is an actor capable of much more. There were moments provided for her to truly shine, but sadly she gave a mostly muted performance.
The same could be said of Jackie Kaboi who played Nosizwe, the sister to the deceased pregnant woman.
While the delivery was fine, it lacked the passion of someone truly seeking justice for the needless death of her sibling. It is unclear whether these were deliberate directorial choices.
Without a doubt, Hearts of Art has gained a big following; on the last day of the show the former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga was in attendance.
While they break the seriousness once in a while with romance and comedy their strong suit is in addressing social issues.
Their next show, A Kiss Through The Veil will be showing in May at the Braeburn Theatre.