By Margaretta wa Gacheru (posted 15 May 2019 for May 17)
Anyone who ever watched a Tyler Perry movie of ‘Madea’, the outrageous African American mama played by Tyler Perry dressed ‘in drag’, would have undoubtedly enjoyed ‘Mrs Lucy Goes to Africa’, the musical theatre staged last weekend at Catholic University.
Billed at ‘The Second Annual Broadway Extravaganza in Kenya’, this Toussaint Duchess production isn’t exactly a show fresh from the Broadway based in New York. But broadly speaking, it is an extravagant tale about an earthy African American woman who gets on a plane, thinking she is heading home to California only to discover she has landed in Kenya.
Upon arrival, Lucy (played by the playwright, co-producer, director Toussaint) collapses in disbelief. But that’s just the first of several ‘culture shocks’ she gets after going home with her Kenyan friend and meeting her family.
Like Madea, Mrs Lucy is a parody on the opinionated America-centric tourist who judges local culture according to the small world that she knows. But she and the Kenyan grandma Neema (Eclay Wangira) have much in common. Both serve as the soulful glue that binds their families together; and both are wise, straight-talking truth-tellers.
There are secrets hidden in Neema’s house and she knows they must come out. But she is ill and apparently has come home to die. She intentionally brings Lucy with her because she knows she might need her help.
Lucy knows nothing of Neema’s plan. But the grannie has told her the darkest family secrets. So as peculiar and misplaced as Lucy might seem, Neema knows she will be perfect (if grannie isn’t able) to bring the truth to light.
The truth is Neema’s daughter Regina (Regina Re) had delivered a stillborn child the same time as her house-help Winnie (Njoki Munyi) delivered twins. Thereafter, Regina did the unthinkable: she took Winnie’s twins and got the hospital to claim they died. Only her husband (Eddy Peter) and Neema know, that is, until she tells Lucy.
It’s Lucy who lays the truth bare, providing the biggest shock of them all. Since Neema is sick and Regina cannot face all the people she has betrayed, including Winnie, her two sons (one being her own, Caleb Kushinda), and the twins, one of whom she raised (Maho Charles), the other she’d sent off to boarding school, Lucy has the wisdom and loving way of revealing the truth while allowing love to conquer the pain.