Within three minutes of bursting onto the stage, Ben (Manu Kumasi), had the audience eating out of his hand. His attitude, singing and dancing was one giant invitation to join in his story of love and loss. Using only a mic, desk and chair for props, Ben transported us from place to place and emotion to emotion. The sparing use of lighting and phone ringtones to signal changes in scenes worked in sync with the sparse staging.
Except for a few slips in dialogue, Kumasi’s performance was strong throughout. Particularly enjoyable was his artistry in playing multiple characters within one scene. This ability should be used to the max — but not to the point where it disrupts the story line. As the performance progressed, it became more about the portrayal of multiple characters and the arc of the story was lost. Cultural references to Dr. Huxtable (Bill Crosby), Carrot Top and drag queens of the late 90s added depth and increased his connection with the audience. References to the movie Cool Runnings, are less successful since me and maybe some of the audience members may have not seen the movie.
The premise of Sanka, Ya Dead Mon? is a young man’s struggle between following his artistic dreams and desires for a family and stability. If the number of of non-essential characters were cut and the central theme strengthened, this would be a play that no one would want to miss. For now, just go and enjoy Kumasi’s performance.
Sanka, Ya Dead Mon? is written by Philip Dallmann, directed by Michel Jerome Faulkner II and stars Manu Kumasi as Ben. The show is being produced by Wild Rumpus Productions.
Running Time: 75 minutes.
Read 2013 Capital Fringe Show Preview: ‘Sanka, Ya Dead Mon’ by Philip Dallmann