No matter how much we try, our true feelings cannot be hidden, even to ourselves.
The play Sirano wa Begeraki, showcased at Alliance Française over the weekend, was a fascinating blend of romance, war, humour, and an adventure towards self-worth beyond what the eyes can see.
This was an adaption from the 1897 French play that has been attributed with familiarising the English lexicon with the word ‘panache’, Cyrano de Bergerac.
Sirano wa Begeraki is a skilled military soldier in the KDF, a poet and philosopher who struggles with self-esteem issues due to his extraordinarily large nose.
Sirano is deeply in love with Roxanne, a comely nurse in the barracks but believes she could never love him because of his nose. There is no way that a beautiful woman like her would fall for a man like him, because of his humongous nose that is the butt of all jokes throughout the barracks.
Christian, a new recruit, falls in love with Roxanne at first sight. Roxanne confesses her love for Christian to Sirano who, out of his care and love for her, accepts her request to connect the two. Sirano then uses his skills in poetry to help the tongue-tied Christian better articulate his words in the letters he sends to Roxanne. Since he doesn’t have the looks, he uses his power of words and, even though the message is passed through someone else, his feelings remain genuinely expressed.
Set out for marriage to General wa Gitau, Roxanne marries Christian instead, which enrages the general who then sets Sirano’s unit, Christian included, to a suicide mission in Somalia where Christian learns of Sirano’s love for Roxanne before dying in the battlefield.
Sirano confesses his love for Roxanne, who now realises that the love letters were, all along, the work of his penmanship before Sirano drops to the floor and succumbs to his wounds, in Roxanne’s arms.
The sincerity in Ochungo Benson‘s portrayal of Sirano wa Bergeraki was the centrepiece of the play. Gadwill Odhiambo‘s Christian was iterated as a man drunk in love but doesn’t know how to express it, his interactions with Sirano were hilarious to watch, backed up by Christian’s inability to understand Sirano’s complex vocabulary.
Nixsha Shah‘s portrayal of Roxanne was warm and kind, a nurse who deeply cares about all those around her but also longs the same for herself, this accompanied by wonderful performances from Amina Hussein (Maryanne), Dominic Mutemi (Lebelo), Dru Muthure (Bukhebi) among others.
From a script adapted by Gadwill Odhiambo, produced and directed by Stuart Nash, Sirano wa Bergeraki was worth every second. Its honesty in the human condition surrounding love should be experienced by more audiences.
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