Thursday, August 23, 2012

Roki Shines In Debut Theatre Role

A play titled Roki and Maneta (Encounter), which premiered at Theatre in the Park on Tuesday, produced a compelling stage performance that revived the experiences that occurred in the Big Brother Africa Stargame, but fell short in basic storytelling and struggled to build its internal logic.

Written by veteran playwright Stephen Chifunyise, the play sought to revisit memories Roki and Maneta went through during their stint in the reality show.

The production is highly infused with dance, music and a bit of comedy to relive the fantasy experienced by the two in Big Brother Stargame.

It opens with Roki and Maneta (played by Nothando Nobengula) engaged in a conflict about who should first have the opportunity to audition for the “Zimbabwe Idols”.

This arguably portrays all the drama and rivalry that occurred in the reality show with near perfection. It could not have been more real without the inclusion of the scene when Maneta tried to pour a detergent on Roki during their argument.

If all could be said with regards to the performance he put up during his debut in theatre, Roki has grown to be the confident artist who matches his talent.

What is commendable about the play is that the cast engaged Rockford Josphats, aka Roki, who played his role.

This added depth to the play, as his presence gave theatre lovers a feeling of what he personally went through in the reality show.

Suffice to add that while the acting was perfect and touched on the delicate concerns of conflicts, the overall storyline was rather haphazard.

With its often raw humour, the play was coupled with redundant strut-your-stuff performance from Chipo Bizure, which drew the audience away from the central idea of the script. The other point to note was that the ending of the play, which was supposedly gloomy, had Maneta declaring Roki winner of the auditions.

While the basic idea is to give artists a platform where they can express their talent fairly, the ending gave Roki an unfair mileage over Maneta. This raise questions concerning the exact emotions felt by the audience and the different attitudes this act reinforced.

The production needs to be polished; the storyline, in particular, needs to be tightened, with “complete” scenes rather than hurried episodes.

It needs to balance form with matter and develop a sense of audience empathy in its character portrayal, as well as developing a more convincing conclusion.

However, the play could have been more direct with the inclusion of Maneta Mazani in person.

Despite this, Chifunyise needs to be commended for his courage and tenacity in making this first effort in “bio theare” in the Roki and Maneta (Encounter) from a very recent real situation.

By Simbarashe Manhango / NewsDay - Zimbabwe

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