By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha
A NEW play titled, “Sinners?” which premiered at Theatre in the Park on Tuesday, tells the story of three commercial sex workers who experience doldrums in their trade and decide to go on a spree to rape men for sperm which they sell lucratively. But they end up in conflict over how to share profits and break apart.
The play, written by new playwright, Patrick Chasaya, “Sinners?” and directed by Daves Guzha produced a compelling stage performance that was raunchy but fell short in basic storytelling and struggled to build its internal logic. Given the dearth of playwrights in Zimbabwe, Chasaya needs to be commended for his courage and tenacity in making this first effort.
Suffice to state that while the acting was believable and touched on issues of sex and sexuality that are often not discussed in our society, the overall storyline was rather choppy.
With its often raw humour and rough language, coupled with adult themes the play is a raunchy strut-your-stuff performance with the all all female cast, including, Eunice Tava, Charity Dlodlo, and Gertrude Munhamo being bawdy, brazen and, sometimes, philosophical. While characterization is a great strength of the play, the actors have a very limited scope of a play to function within.
The play, which is rated, No Under 18, has its comical and provocative moments, some even border on the pornographic, especially in rape scenes. As bubblegum for the ears and eyes it works as a play.
For a new playwright, it must have been a mammoth task to try and flesh out all the three characters that a lot of time is spent with each trying to establish their case. Because the three women are not radically different, at the end, it appears like one character rolled into three, resulting in unecessary repetitions.
The beginning is deceptively promising with the three characters narrating why and how they are involved in sex work but a quarter way into the performance, the plays loses its spark which it compensates for with bawdy jokes.
However, for some, the play must have provided some eye candy due to the skimpy and body hugging costumes and scintillating performance of the actors.
In addition, it’s not far fetched to say that the performance scratched on the surface of the lives of the characters and struggled to establish a proper background and foundation in its trajectory.
It could also be argued that play somewhat objectifies the women – there’s a lot of booty shaking – without constructing a story or characters that audience members can empathize with.
The simple premise of the play is three sex workers narrate and gyrate about their experiences, get into trouble and embark on a botched business.
The play does attempt to highlight the abuse that sex workers experience at the hands of the police but very little is explored in this regard.
Overall, the production needs to be better polished; the storyline, in particular needs to be tighter, with scenes not appearing to be hashed up. It needs to balance form with matter, and develop a sense of audience empathy in its character portrayal as well as develop a more convincing conclusion.