by Donald Matthys (@zuleitmatthys)
Director: Bret Kamwi
Playwright: Bret Kamwi
Cast: Melgisedek Nehemia, Xavier M, Diana Master, Penny Heelu, Kaarina Nambinga, Vaja Tjipueja, Taylo Mannetti.
Three Sisters basks in glorious blasphemy and if you are one of those people who get dragged to prophetic churches by your family (like I am), you will recognise the overly spiritual sisters and the confidently dramatic prophets who make up prophetic churches.
Bret Kamwi debuted his religious satire, Three Sisters on Thursday to a sold-out venue at the National Theatre of Namibia and boy was it a… thing! For the average religious person, the entire plot might seem like pure blasphemy but for the heathens who walk the earth, Three Sisters could be fun- especially if they are critical of prophets.
The ultimate concept of the Three Sisters isn’t bad in itself. The play has a West African/Nollywood feel to it, I guess when it has to do with shady religion it has to be Nollywood inspired. But the play is a first of its kind for Namibia and that warrants applause.
Three Sisters opened with a religious service setup, complete with the supporting wives, the prophet and the audience serving as congregation members. Some cast members were also planted in the audience and some audience members even stood up and rejoiced as the prophet, played by Melgisedek Nehemia, made his entrance supported by a live piano. For a moment it felt like I was at a church somewhere in Katutura.
Everything about the ‘service’ segment was accurate, at least for those of us who have been to a prophetic church, complete with the ‘magical’ healing to the posture of the sisters and the prophet’s delivery of the ‘message’. I actually liked that portion of the play. It was funny and refreshing.
It is from the second scene where things started getting weird. Don’t get me wrong, I do love some intrigue in stories- it keeps you on the edge. It was Xavier M’s portrayal of Chaze (the undercover reporter) that made me question the entire premise of the play. Chaze was very upfront about her intentions- you could see it on her face and actions. If she was a bit subtle and less ‘investigative’ the character would have sold me. I couldn’t wrap my head around how none of the sisters picked up on her intentions when she was being very obvious with them, even when they were all in the same room. Also, Chaze was a very unprepared girl who came to the prophet’s house with only one outfit. Throughout the entire play everyone changes but our dear heroine remains in her pink blouse and black shorts.
Then there was the dialogue. I get it. You get carried away when you write these things. I do too. You write and you write and you write and it just goes on and on- it becomes very tedious when not even the characters are interesting enough to keep it going. The mind-numbing revelations and conversations proved to be a real miss because even the first bunch of audience members who stood up in cheer to welcome the prophet at the beginning, didn’t do the same during the second ‘service’ scene.
Oh, and I love a good queer representation in the entertainment and I commend Kamwi for squeezing in a lesbian storyline between Chaze and Mona (played by Vaja Tjipueja). The issue for me was with the whole ‘squeezing’ in part. Some good ironing out and ongoing chemistry between the two characters would’ve made for a less stiff interaction between them.
Props to the actors Diana Master and Nehemia for delivering their characters with zest, they really took one out of the deep end. Penny Heelu, Kaarina Nambinga and Taylo Mannetti also gave their characters justice, making for some witty lines.
Three Sisters is a worthy play thanks to incorporating queer representation in a religious setting, performances by its cast, attention to detail with setup and costumes, that piano player (yes!), directing and literally taking that leap of faith by interrogating religion in a ‘Christian’ nation like Namibia.
For someone like my mother and every other Nollywood-loving older woman I know, Three Sisters will be a treat, but they might walk out of the theatre questioning the morals of ‘today kids’.
Three Sisters is still on stage tonight (06 March) and tomorrow (7 March) at NTN Backstage. All performances start at 20h00. General tickets are charged at N$80 and students and senior citizens tickets are discounted at N$50. Tickets are available via Computicket outlets countrywide.
(IMAGES: National Theatre of Namibia/Facebook)