By Margaretta wa Gacheru (posted 7 October 2019)
Such a privilege to get a front row seat to the 5th edition of Too Early for Birds, that infinitely imaginative team of young Kenyan actors, writers, and historians who blend history, humor and technology with a brilliant 4th dimensional style of storytelling.
Already having its own history, despite being little more than two years old, TEFB has a track record that compelled theatre lovers to count on seeing them produce a captivating show that would not only be hilarious but historically insightful, theatrically innovative and above all, fresh and funky.
Announcing the 5th was to be all about Tom Mboya, who knew how much we didn’t know about the late trade union leader who might have become Kenya’s second president if he had lived beyond his youthful 39 years.
TEFB was true to form in revealing all sorts of salient facts and sparkling anecdotes about the man and the historic moments where he made major impacts, not only on Luo-land, Kenya or even Pan-Africa where he was elected Chairman (in absentia) of the All-Africa People’s Conference in Ghana way back in 1958, Mboya’s charm, brilliance, electrifying energy and charismatic character swiftly got him hooked up with millionaires, Black power leaders and even future American presidents, like John F. Kennedy Jr.
Directed by Mugambi Nthige, and scripted by an amazing TEFB team, including the troupe’s cofounder Ngartia Bryan (with Abu Sense), the show featured ten versatile actors who took on an array of characters which had played an integral part in Mboya’s life. Virtually all of them also took turns storytelling, each in his or her own inimitable style. The one constant character was Mboya himself, played by Xavier Ywaya who recently starred in the Chatterbox production of ‘Lwanda Rockman’ (he as Lwanda).
It was a show that sparkled with stories that were instantaneously dramatized as the stage shape-shifted from moment to moment. At once Mboya was in New York with his multi-millionaire buddy, William Scheinman, (nicknamed Blinky Bill), the man who bankrolled scores of Kenyans airlifted to schools in US. Then he’d be among the masses activating Kenya’s first trade union movement. And finally, his fatal trip to the pharmacy on Moi Avenue where he was murdered by invisible forces unknown to this day.
In just two hours, TEFB gave us rich insights and enormous entertainment that confirm they’re a troupe at the top of their game. Bravo TEFB!