Contemporary Plays Capture Audience

0
7

By Lesley-Anne van Wyk This was a well-acted performance capable of dealing with the script’s requirements, with thoughtful attention to costume and props. With the dry humour lapping over the appreciative audience, it can be said that this play deserves its slice of success. This satirical depiction of life in Namibia from the most Namibian of all (a pap and vetkoek seller in Independence Avenue) is a laugh-a-minute play. Adapted from being a 37-cast production, this minute performance was condensed by director Frederick Philander into a one-woman play. Queeny, actress Felicity Celento, first hauls her heavy bag and boxful of cooking items onto the elevated stage. As she sets up her stall, cooks and waits for customers, she brings us into her own world. She lets us in on the scandals in the lifestyles of her regular customers. There’s little name calling here, instead a general, and inescapably stereotypical, view of characters in society represented in the play. She includes the audience in her experiences as she moves through her monologue illustrating for example the pensioner who buys on Queeny’s “loyal credit bookie” as his currency, right to the occasional Australian tourist visiting her stall. As she prepares her wares the audience is entertained with tongue-in-cheek descriptions of our cultural clashes and places of similarity (one such similarity being the bedroom for white foreign men and Owambo women). Not everyone giggled at this jeer, as an Owambo woman expressed her distaste at this comment after the show. All the topics under the Namibian sun are discussed, from the education system to superwoman’s sexuality and from public urination to the all-encompassing misery in society. Queeny’s soapbox is not far. And as her musings draw on, it becomes clearer to the onlooker that her words reflect the years of observation and participation of a frustrated, yet hopeful Namibian mind. Namibians’ use of the English language, and govern-ment’s abuse of foreign donors’ money, are not spared criticism from this lively character. With accent and all, political leaders, fellow hawkers and Owambo citizens are taken the mickey of with screeches of laughter from the crowd. Our democracy and independence are scrutinized with the view of the average poverty-fighting citizen and the outcome is comical, but all the while one cannot escape a feeling of sadness in the face of the realities that she exposes. As the playwright pointed out at the end of the piece, he can say what he wants because the Constitution protects him under the freedom of speech clause. Perhaps the lesson to be learnt is that we are all entitled to this, and maybe that’s all we need. – The Bigamist A one-man show in its own right written, directed, acted and produced by Frederick Philander. The tone of this play is obvious from the opening tune “Jalous Bokkie”. Enter Reo (Philander), the drinking, smoking, cheating husband married to an Oshiwambo-speaking woman and divorced from a Coloured woman. The rest of the play follows the happenings of a Friday night in Rehoboth’s Block B including all the antics of your average Baster man. Entertaining despite being uninspiring, the play ends without appropriately resolving a serious issue, being the rape of a young lady (Reo’s daughter). These performances were staged on June 26 and 27 at the Unam Space Theatre by the Committed Artists of Namibia theatre troupe, which is now in existence for 27 years. The group will stage another production in September this year at the Bank Windhoek Arts Festival. This occasion was for fundraising to send the band of actors to the annual Grahams-town Arts Festival, where they will perform next as from tomorrow.