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One Woman Show: Actors Anonymous | Review

Nyokabi Macharia takes on a wide range of characters in this briskly-paced and multi-faceted one-woman show, set in what appears to be some sort of group therapy (I’ve never attended a session, so I can’t be entirely sure). What transpires is an ‘energy cleansing meditation’ followed by the moderator going around the room and inviting people to open up and share whatever is on their mind. There are some ground rules: they are not explicitly set out at the start but become apparent as the show continues. There are no major surprises, though – the moderator insists on civility, and people should not interrupt one another, that sort of thing.
One Woman Show: Actors Anonymous

It almost naturally follows, then, that there’s someone who, albeit without malice, starts talking out of turn, asking questions of others directly instead of going through the moderator. And it also almost naturally follows that there’s someone else who is so timid that one wonders whether it is even feasible that she would attend a group session in the first place. There are some laugh out loud moments in a narrative that covers a remarkable amount of ground in one hour, thanks to the (perhaps overused) device of delving into a character’s thought patterns, such that they are lost in thought during the discussion and need to be brought back into the room, as it were, by the moderator.

Macharia demonstrates considerable versatility, particularly in voicing different people from her home country, Kenya. While providing a strong sense of familiarity for members of the audience from East Africa, the show is equally accessible for those of us who have never set foot in the region.

Technically, it is somewhat contrived that the moderator would want to steer the discussion in the direction of inviting Lowenna to talk about Kenya: “What is the culture like?” But what she is thinking about and what she actually says are different, and there’s fun to be had in enjoying inner thoughts spoken to the audience but not to the group.

Of the many ‘monologues in lockdown’ that have transpired during the pandemic, this is one of the few that makes no direct reference to the virus – as good a reason as any to give the show a chance if it is brought back for additional performances in the future. There’s even some beautiful singing to enjoy, as well as the exploration of the challenges faced by those trying to make a living in an industry where supply considerably exceeds demand. A witty and thoughtful production.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Brave. Talented. Inspiring. Who do you turn to when everyone already falls at your feet? What else is there to do when you’ve accomplished perfection? Where do you go next when you’ve seen it all… Okay. Let’s cut the crap. Hi. I’m Lowenna. A girl, living in London, trying to figure out who the bloody hell I am. Am I brave? Hardly. Talented? I mean, kind of! I came second in a Charity singing competition when I was 5, so, yeah, I guess I’m a natural in that department. And inspiring? Well, if you call being able to fit 2 full-sized, FULL-SIZED, eggs in your mouth at one time ‘inspiring’, WITHOUT breaking the shell, then yeah, I’m The Shit. But really? I’m terrified. Terrified of the nothingness that is threatening to overwhelm my existence.

Terrified of the failure, terrified of the rejection, and terrified at the prospect of going home a total, and utter failure. SO. Enough of the self-pity! I’m gonna ‘take the steps in order to improve and enhance my life’. Today! Join Lowenna in The Circle, as she learns more about herself than she ever dared think about. What will she uncover? Who will help her along the way? And what can we learn from their discoveries?

CAST AND CREATIVES
SCARLET SIMMONS – WRITER
MERCY MUTISYA – WRITER
NYOKABI MACHARIA – LOWENNA
LUCY ALDER – DIRECTOR
KENJI GATHECHA – DOCUMENTARY DIRECTOR
SOMI ELSIE – GRAPHIC DESIGNER
CHRISTIAN CZORNYJ – TECHNICAL PRODUCER
ADAM LENSON – TECHNICAL PRODUCER
FERANDI YENNAS – PRODUCER
LARISSA NUGROHO – PRODUCER

Author

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