Comedy outfit makes reading news fun

10:06 by Kaggwa Andrew
Wow is the perfect word to describe the Newspaper theatre show staged by the FourSum quartet at the National Theatre on Easter Monday. After many writing off comedy as a dead and buried field, it seems Edwin Mukalazi, Felix Bbale Bwanika, Mpaata Williamson Otako and Simon Kivumbi are here to revive it.

As many comedy outfits sprang up, many easily burnt their fingers with the end result being recycled material tailored around sex or tribal jokes. To set themselves apart, the quartet decided to stage four shows a year, so as to get ample time and space to create new material. Their skits and jokes are also picked from stories that made headlines throughout the three-month period.

FourSum Newspaper Theatre tells stories from all newspapers, bringing them to the public readers in an artistic form. Monday night’s jokes traded on the recent disappearance of Malaysian Airlines, Uneb results, Golola and, of course, the Katikkiro’s fundraising drive.

It was surprising seeing news stories given fictional, satirical and artistic interpretations without altering their original intended messages. Playing on the intricacies of language barriers, they explained the adventures of Katikkiro Peter Mayiga and his Ttaffaali drive hilariously; in their version, the Basoga offered Mayiga a Tata of 1,000 bricks. Ttaffaali is Luganda for ‘brick’, although in Mayiga’s fundraising drive, it is used metaphorically.

Others such as the signing of the anti-gay bill into law got the audience cracking, even as there was a big number of expatriates. FourSum took no breaks, performing for two and half hours straight; any wardrobe changes were done on stage, yet it remained descent. What was meant to be a break was consumed by their guest performer and linkman, Kenneth ‘Pablo’ Kimuli. His role was to provide transition from one skit to another; he would read a news story, create debate around it or interpret it in his comic way, then leave the cast to re-enact the story. Pablo enjoyed himself as he kept throwing a few punchlines like the confession that he was once in a Gay choir – the Gayaza Archdiocese Youth choir. FourSum and their newspaper theatre may have raised the bar with good timing, stage management and execution.

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