The lights come on, and there’s a girl in a rumpled choir gown singing ‘Hallelujah’. As her singing reaches its climax, she throws off the gown to reveal the body of a lingerie model, clad in an outfit designed to make a stripper blush.
And that is our introduction to Joy Isi Bewaji’s SATAN: A Dark Comedy, a play which, at its worst is a laughter-filled thrill ride, and at its best, is a thought-provoking, humor-filled satire. Written and directed (her debut) by Joy herself, it is a lean (the play clocks at around 40 minutes) but loaded production.
‘Resist the devil and he will flee from you’ seems to be the theme Joy wants the viewer to take away. Right away, we are presented with a lamenting ‘devil’ who relishes the opportunity to finally share his side of the story. And then, he goes on about his business, never making anyone do anything – just giving ‘helpful’ suggestions and nudging them in the way they ALWAYS wanted to go.
There’s the adulterer who, when confronted with Jesus’ name comes up, says ‘Jesus?! He was never married! What does he know about women, lust and love?!’ There’s the wife who continually skabashes – and yet a loud noise is enough to send her scampering for safety. There’s the ‘ambitious’ lady who, after being passed over at the office decides to take a more direct approach – basically, a montage of the everyman and the things he struggles with. The laughs come steady and without fluff or emphasis, the dialogue, though long at times, is completely natural.
The thing about the stage is it’s a raw, honest medium that doesn’t cover for any thespian. There are no special effects or retakes or special editing sessions where mistakes are hidden behind camera angles, and poor delivery is made up for with redubs. Also, unlike the big screen, on stage the feedback is immediate. It’s clear if the play has the crowd or not, what went wrong and at what point it did. More often than not, the weight of the work rests on the shoulders of the actors – and, they can make or mar a production.
The cast of Satan come with their A-game, or at least they did for the performance I witnessed. It took a bit, for some reason they were somewhat dull at the beginning – but they quickly got into their groove and delivered a stellar performance. High up on the list is Satan himself, seducing and suggesting and singing and moaning and sighing and ranting with a flair that echoes everything we know about the character he plays – whether fiction or fact. The other actors too give him great material to bounce off, and their expressions are a joy to watch.
Joy’s innate fearlessness shines through in her choice of theme, dialogue – even down to some costume choices. Her directing is brave and confrontational – and even though one may wonder if the struggle between good and evil for the soul of man can be narrowed down to logic and choice, the play is strong enough to encourage wondering.
And though some of the cast were a bit extra with the acting in a couple of scenes, though some of them spoke with weird accents initially, though the light guy dozed off at points; leaving the lights on when they were supposed to be off, watching Satan: A Dark Comedy was a worthy experience. One I intend to repeat come Sunday – and this time, with a bunch of friends.
I suggest you do too.
Peep the flyer below to catch the next show times.