As we entered the Maru a Pula School’s Moving Space Auditorium at the opening of a Mama Theatre production, titled “The Creature on Friday”, an usher cajoles viewers to sit in the front row around the edge of a diamond wire fence cage with a clear sign that reads ‘Do Not Feed – by Order.’
“That is where the action is,” the usher informs. Indeed. Or, rather, tongue-lashing, as the Thomas Mpoeleng penned and directed one-man act is a monologue in which a shackled undefined creature, played by Mpho Rabotsima, breaks down. He has had it with being prodded and gawked at, and no food gifts thank you.
This mud smothered creature, wakes up to stares from the audience, which by design simulate a gawking crowd at the Lion Park. The creature is also shaken, stares back. It is evident right away how talented an actor Rabotsima is, portraying a frightened but defiant creature; facial expression and body language as a caged animal. He moves from face to face finally looking at me.
“Why are you here he asks,” the creature asked me.
“To see you,” I say.
“How much did you pay to see me?” he asks.
“P30,” I answered,
“I hate you,” he busts out. (Well, thankfully, I had not used my press card. I could have been mauled.) With this he begins his rant. This story does raise a few fantastical questions. Is this a plight for caged animals and possibly safari wildlife, or symbolic of a human being in physical or mental captivity, or equality for all?
An angry Creature wants to be set free, so he can be himself. Why do we keep him caged for our offspring to eyeball? He wants to hunt, fart and have sex if and when he pleases without an audience (for scientific reasons). The audience is wide-eyed, wondering what to make of the onslaught from Creature.
Just when the verbal onslaught is in danger of being long drawn out, a rather sick humour gives the viewers time to recover between tongue-lashings.
After a broody moment, where he wished for puppies of his own, I found the derogatory expletives, such as slut and bitch used to ‘lovingly’ describe Creature’s love interest Rita disturbing, though some men in the audience smiled fondly at the analogy. This sells short the notion by Creature that animals ‘fall in love’.
However, the Creature was worth seeing due to Rabotsima’s acting agility and as a bizarre play that sits outside the sphere of plays written by budding Batswana playwrights. The Creature could possibly benefit from more definition of Creature. What/who is he?