The title of the play, Blissful Hell makes you want to go and watch it. You walk into the auditorium thinking; it must be really interesting. But once the play has ended, you just can’t seem to trace where the blissful hell really was.
It seems as though the Ebonies concentrated a lot on the props, lights and costume and dwelt less on the content of the play. There was a also tendency to concentrate a lot on the lengthy videos. And what troubled me also, was the extreme use of vulgarity. At some point the jokes sounded funny but in the long run they turned unpleasantly offensive.
Some content in terms of scenes and expositions were placed therein for a length of time which did not in any way add meat to the skeleton of the drama. The supposedly dominant theme of the play rarely surfaced in the events of the drama. The blissful hell was often talked about in the dialogue and that is what made you realise that you had actually come to watch a play about that theme.
The girl seated next to me said; "Now where is the blissful hell? Why did we have other court cases instead of having the court case that was relevant to all of this?" And indeed she was right.
The plot tackles issues relating to cross generational sex, love and greed among others. It revolves around a young girl, Daphne, (Juliet Underwood) who is seeing a rich man, Mposa (Mayombwe Nsubuga) but things don’t go well when he learns that she is cheating on him with a younger boy Sydney (Jonathan Edward Suubi). There are several twists and turns; some work but others simply create confusion.
There is also a big element of unbelieveability; you have a sugar daddy Mposa, whom Daphne is seeing. He eats disgustingly, wears socks over the trousers, has a stinking hanky and uses toothpicks to clean his ears. It’s not that there can't be such a sugar daddy dating such a gorgeous lady who is seeing another young man, but his character is exaggerated.
The redeeming factor is that the actors are not bad. Had they been given proper direction, placed into well coordinated situations and dressed in a better structure, they would have been much better. Cissy Muwanga is still strong and relevant, her role as Daphne’s mother is interesting to watch.
Mariam Bukenya who acts as Cathy whose boyfriend Sydney was snatched by Daphne is the finest of them all. Her character is a beguiling combination of lonely gullibility and cunning ambition. She is a symbol of hope. Even when she loses her lover, she keeps hoping that one day he will return. Sam Bagenda who acts as Nebuchadnezzar, a competent but ruthless advocate also depicts the stereotyped Banyankole arrogance quite believably. Jonathan Edward Suubi the new kid on the block is promising. But the role of the inspector Oyet Otim (OO) which dates way back to plays such as Daisy has become such a cliché. Although the new person acting it, Hudson Kabogoza, tries his best, he cannot measure up to the excellence with which Kwezi Kaganda did it.
The costumes were superb. The dancers were really exotic and the party dresses were breathtaking. The lights employed kept the audience turning their heads to whichever direction they went. All these physical amusements compensated to an extent for the huge gaps in the play.
The set design for the court is truly believable. I liked the satire employed, and the way the court was dramatised. But then, where do you find a judge (Raymond Rushabiro) who comes with three small jerry cans of traditional medicine in court and then leaves his seat to throw himself on people in court?
The end comes with too much verbatim. The characters especially the detective starts explaining why none of the suspects actually had a role in a murder. All in all, it’s a great set, but a terribly shaky play.
This play continues to show at Theatre La Bonita. Tickets go for Shs10,000 and Shs15,000.