Our elders have a saying:
“Dont call a spade a spoon if it is used in feeding cattle”
This is exemplary of the humorous wisdom rendered by Jojo, Uncle Ebo Whyte’s main character in his latest play titled “The Comeback” which I had the opportunity to preview last Wednesday 30th August, 2017.
“The Comeback” is a play about a successful uneducated Ghanaian Italian league soccer player, Jojo, who returns home to realize that his investments have been squandered by his brother.
My first Ebo Whyte in 2015 left me unimpressed. The script lacked depth, had an overuse of singing and jokes that in my opinion often fell flat.
Despite my past sentiments on Uncle Ebo Whyte’s work, I went in to watch this play in the hope that my issues from the past will have been rectified.
Alas, my past issues were still visible. I often found myself sighing whenever there was a performance involving song. To be fair, the songs were much shorter but still rubbed me the wrong way.
Overuse of Singing
The problem with singing or use of song within plays boils down to choice. Many of the songs used within the play were unnecessary and added no value to the message or context.
One excellent use of song within the play was the use of Ghanaian rapper EL’s song “Kaalu” in a scene where coach arrived in the nick of time to prevent Jojo from assassinating his brother.
It was perfectly placed to deliver laughter. I laughed effortlessly and was impressed with the idea. If all songs were placed in a similar manner I would be singing a different tune about Uncle Ebo Whyte’s plays today.
The choice of the characters in this play was a perfect recipe for humor. Coach for instance was my favorite character. He is a professional coach who enjoys life, likes to have a good time and calls a spade a spade as is evident in his commentary of issues at the family table.
Jojo’s mother, brother and Uncle were also great characters. The characters with the exception of Jojo were developed well.
I had issues with Jojos character. Jojo was the main character of the play. The acting was spot on but certain aspects of his character did not contribute to the success of the production.
Jojo’s illiteracy and wisdom
The problem was that majority of these quotes were either not funny, made no sense nor contributed to the discussion within the play at the time.
More thought should have gone into these quotes to have made the play a hit. I feel each time Jojo made reference to his elders was an opportunity to make the audience laugh and this opportunity was not utilized efficiently.
Jojo as mentioned earlier appears to be uneducated. Thus, his speech is wired with bad grammar. This provided the audience with a lot of humor and was a bit excessive. In the same vein as the quotes, his lines could have been scripted better.
A great example of this is in the early scenes of the play where we see Jojo return from his travels and realizes that his investments have been squandered.
“wait, wait, wait….halftime, halftime”
These were Jojos words. The use of soccer jargon to express himself was effective in delivering a joke as well as expressing his frustration.
As a soccer player I felt such jargon should have been used more in his conversation to showcase his dependency and passion for on soccer as a livelihood.
That Weird Dance Scene
Now I am not sure what the idea of Agnes, the daughter of Coach and her fiance dance arguing was about.
I always look out for something unexpected or surprising but this was beyond anything I my mind could create and till date I am not sure how to feel about it.
It was weird, confusing and hilarious. I laughed so hard that I believe the cameras took a shot of my laughter; and as I laughed I kept looking for something to justify this weirdness and came up empty handed.
Now that scene could have worked if Agnes for instance was introduced earlier as a dance enthusiast and her fiance and her have been seen practicing a wedding dance of sorts.
The dance however was a distraction from the main plot and totally unnecessary.
Before concluding I want to comment on the screens used on stage as backgrounds.
I liked the idea of screens being used as backgrounds. The opportunity and convenience it presents allows a variety of scenes to be crafted.
My favorite background was the gym background. The visuals created the ambience of a gym. Though I kept wondering what a dining table was doing within a gym premises.
The household of Jojos mother however had a background that looked animated than realistic. Which I thought wasn’t good enough.
Also there was tv screen within the background in loop showcasing a channel that I felt was distracting and again, unnecessary as it failed to contribute to the story.
If that was an attempt at product placement it should be reviewed for future productions.
This play was far better than the one I watched some years back. Though I haven’t elaborated on all my issues with “The Comeback”, the play shows that the production house of Uncel Ebo Whyte is improving.
Generally people loved the play and found it humorous. Uncle Ebo definitely understands what Ghanaians find funny. It just needs polishing to appeal not only to Ghanaians but others nationals as well as that can see his work being adapted in other countries.
Then again, a production house looking at producing a play every quarter will be faced with many challenges and for that I say the play went well despite my issues with it.
That however, should not be the case. The plays must strive for a good rating at all times and if that means making changes to time or staff that help in the content then it must be done to ensure that quality is maintained.
Bear in mind that going to the cinema is way less than watching an Ebo Whyte play. So for me quality should not be compromised as other entertainment options are available.
This play gives me hope for future productions and I look forward to the growth of the production house.
Keep it One Hondred!