BY MARYANNE NYAMBURA
Book Ends was a play I attended at Phoenix Players Theater. It was a two-people play and I had really looked forward to it after my last experiences here of two handers.
The show is set in an open place. I possibly would say it is a bus stop or waiting bay. The two characters are two elderly men who happen to be really good friends. They seem to have a specific time they meet to catch up. They call it the 5 o’clock spot. They recount their experiences about life. They share their worries and hopes.
Ron, played by Tash Mitambo is the lively one in the duo. He lives each day at a time. He danced naked on Koinange Street (a red light street in Nairobi) to win a bet! Bill, played by Babu Wairimu the calmer friend is not so comfortable that Ron danced naked there. He is less jovial. As the play progressed we learn about his health condition that could possibly be the reason why he was calm.
The two decided to kenyanize the script incorporating Kenyan names and situations. On that note I felt maybe they should have kenyanized the language too. They maintained great stage business from eating the fruits to taking the tea/coffee they had brought with them. Not for one moment I felt lost in their actions. My highest point was their use of silence in the play. It was perfectly used that even in silence I enjoyed the show.
On a low point, I somehow struggled to keep up with the story. For an instance or two I lost the flow of the story.
The two characters married each other so well. I felt the great friendship between them. Even when they did not agree on something, I still felt the friends in them arguing.
Bill was my favourite actor! How he maintained that elderly shiver throughout the play was really great! I saw a completely old guy throughout the play. His emotional switches were great. From happy to sad to tears to the cough to completely unwell. In him I saw the typical stubborn old man I could meet up on a normal day. He did not disappoint in any way.
Ron on the other hand was the funny old man. His experience at the old people’s home was so real. He was passionate about the young girl he met there. His voice did him justice in the jovial moments of the play. In him I saw a caring friend that cared a great deal about his sick friend Bill. When he struggled to show his new pair of shoes, he made it look so real.
I loved the subtle jokes. They were well placed not forced in any way. The costumes were a plus to the characters. They looked like two old men. They brought out old age issues, the worries they have and the uncertainties that come with it.
Something that I must commend Tash Mitambo for is directing the show so well and making time to work on his personal character!
I had a great time, kudos to Tash and Babu for a job well done!