Roki and Maneta, The Encounter Theatre Review

The most interesting story for us in this play was always going to be the theatrical debut of urban groover and Big Brother Stargame housemate Roki.

In summary, rather than a rehashing of the story that gripped the nation while Roki and fellow Zimbabwean Maneta Mazanhi were in the reality TV show, writer Stephen Chifunyise sought to look at a fictional life afterwards. In it the two meet at the auditions of another reality TV show called Zim Idol. There they go through exchanges before a team of judges and a few things about them are exposed. Of course some of the gimmicks are there; Roki’s issues with women, Maneta’s anger issues, the bleach, weed, among a few.

All in all the show is, well, entertaining. For a change, we are watching show which has subliminal messages as opposed to the usual raw look at issues that we get.

Roki’s performance started off a little tentative but he grows into character as the play progresses. Also the presence of veterans Nothando Nobengula who plays Maneta, Michael Kudakwashe, Chipo Bizure and Chipo Bhasopo mean that that the singer does not feel too isolated. They carry him well when he seems unsure and allow him to impose himself when he  is sure.

The story itself spends a lot of time making more fun of Maneta than is necessary but given the fact that the writers say Maneta endorsed the script, perhaps that is the way she wanted it.

Is it worth a watch? We think so. While the way it ends (no we won’t spoil it) feels a little subdued it is adequate.

The show is on at Theatre in the Park until Friday. Friday has two runs, one at 5.30pm and the second at 7.30pm.