Director: Kully Thiaral
Writer: Kevin Fegan
Reviewer: Karen McCandless
The Public Reviews Rating:
Loosely adapted from the George Hussain Obama’s autobiography Homeland, Obama the Mamba tells the story of the ‘other’ Obama brother – not the US President, but the one that lives in a Nairobi slum and is leader of his own gang of ‘Mambas’ (which means crocodile in Swahili). With a life as far away as you can imagine from that of Barack Obama, George lives in Huruma, one of Africa’s most lawless slums.
This one-man show is a mammoth task for Clifford Samuel who plays George. With a simple stage setting and accompanied by a double bass, the occasional piece of music and a backdrop of provocative images, Samuel tells the story of President Obama’s half brother from a father they never knew. It takes all of his energy and talent to keep the audience interested throughout the whole show and it’s a great example of his storytelling talent.
One hour and forty minutes without a break is a little long for what is just a man on stage telling his story. Not that it’s not an interesting story and not that it’s not told extremely well by Samuel, but it’s hard to engage with everything he is saying. The closer you are to the stage the better as it’s Samuel’s charisma that makes this show a success. And the Curve audience loved it, with a standing ovation from some sections of the crowd and plenty of cheering.
Obama the Mamba is funny, silly, serious and moving but is it one of the best plays you will see this year? Probably not, but it’s a pleasant way to pass a couple of hours.
Runs until 20 October