Theatre greats are back at Phoenix Players with another great production that aims to bring back the glory to the once popular repertory theatre. Directed by Kamau Wandung’u, KISS OF DEATH is a thriller featuring Alex Kamau – a veteran thespian back on stage after a long hiatus playing as Superintendent of police George Kombo, Antony “Tosh” Ndung’u – another accomplished thespian making a comeback as double-faced Jerry Juma, Beautiful Bernice Nthenya as the ambitious Zoe Mweni, and Kamau Wandung’u himself as a lower rank police officer.
The show revolves around Zoe who goes out to audition for a role. Unbeknownst to her, her fate was sealed even before she got into the audition room. Background checks have been done on her and she has been selected as a pawn in a deadly game between police officers and a notorious serial killer. She is exposed to real danger and even when she realizes she has been set up she is in too deep to quit. However, she takes over and changes the rules of the game plunging into a world of secrecy, betrayal and cover-ups. It is a roller-coaster ride all the way to the explosive climax.
Thriller is a broad genre of literature, film and television, having numerous subgenres. Thrillers are characterized and defined by the moods they elicit, giving viewers heightened feelings of suspense,excitement, surprise, anticipation and anxiety.
Thrillers generally keep the audience on the “edge of their seats” as the plot builds towards a climax. The cover-up of important information from the viewer is a common element.Literary devices such as red herrings, plot twists, and cliffhangers are used extensively. A thriller is usually a villain-driven plot, whereby he or she presents obstacles that the protagonist must overcome.
Kiss of death takes all the above aspects into cosideration. The opening night was graced by the who is who in the entertainment industry. The actors must have had jitters as performing before peers is one of the hardest things ever. They were however able to immerse themselves fully into the act producing a great show. The Kenya Actors Guild- a body seeking to unite all Kenyan actors was well represented and even had a mention in the show.
Kiss of death fuses theatre with film and television expertly. It uses multimedia smoothly to give one a real feel of the thrills. There is no limit to the language as the actors didn’t shy away from using different languages to express themselves. My favorite line was by Superintendent Kombo :”On ne peut pas faire d’omelette sans casser des oeufs.”(French for, a few eggs must be broken to make an omelette). Remembering to give just a little more energy to his lines would help Alex a lot in separating his onscreen act to theatre.
Zoe also plays around with different accents to slip into different roles for her task. Her power of seduction is so real that you feel the goosebumps when she is unleashing it on her fellow actors on stage. Perfecting the accent would greatly enhance Bernice’s character. At some point I wasn’t sure if Natasha’s accent was Swahili or Italian but maybe that was part of the memo. It happens in Malindi.
Jerry Juma looks like danger from the moment he steps on that stage. He exhibits psychopathic tendencies, laughing in one minute and breathing fire in the next. Controlling speed of speech by Tosh would aid in getting everything he says as some important bits could easily escape the audience. His performance is nevertheless top notch.
The few negligible hitches notwithstanding, KISS OF DEATH is a great show that everybody needs to watch. It offers practical lessons to practitioners on how to and how not to do things when on the spot. It is also quality entertainment for theatre enthusiasts
You could actually hear the audience sigh, hold their breath, and gasp with every twist in the thriller. This show is worth every penny of your valuable money and every second of your precious time.
The great team is offering their services pro Bono and with these kind of shows the Phoenix is indeed rising.
Please watch it and then we can have an intellectual discussion afterwards. Let us make Phoenix great again.