By Emmanuel Ssejjengo
Let’s first get the terrible thing out of the way – the service at the restaurant at Bat Valley Theatre. By the time you get service from that team, you will probably have asked Satan to send demons so they can boil the brains of the service team and feed them to hounds. They make theatregoing a painful experience. We go to the theatre to get a life, and these people are serving near-death.
However, the good dish was served on stage, in fragments, some of which lacked closures.
Biswanka, the play that closes at Bat Valley Theatre this weekend, is a family drama of a women-only cast (an all-star cast at that), to celebrate International Women’s Day which is due on Wednesday, March 8. The men in the story are only a reference, yet the action is based on them.
Biswanka’s wives and families start infighting while he is on his deathbed, and when he breathes his last, things go haywire, leading to the destruction of a whole empire. It is the Saul-turning-Paul moment that prevents a total collapse.
It is Anton Checkov who said when you introduce a gun in the story, it must be fired. Here, guns are introduced and not fired.
The story of the girl selling drugs in school, which leads to its (the school) closure, does not meet a logical closure. Neither does the story of the search for the rapist. It is like watching many-tentacled aliens that do nothing throughout their lives.
For the closing weekend, it should do as well for the guns to be fired. The different fragments combine to form a play full of sass and sadness, of the tear-jerking kind. The intentional lack of distinction between characters creates a necessary suspense and allows the director to explore the potential of the younger actresses.
What is most important is that at the end of the day, love wins, and wins right out of ashy situations when we think everything has returned to dust (such symbolism stands stronger during Lent). The play is rightly sub-titled Fracas.
During one of the shows last weekend, there was such a disturbance when one woman in the audience loudly exclaimed, “DNA matters are not easy. It should be banned!” The guilt and worry in her voice enveloped the auditorium. Perhaps the writers did not anticipate that the DNA issue would be the most pressing to the mostly-women audience. And if it indeed is, trust is a really troubled thing.