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The 7 Detestable Sinz

Tuesday, 6 September, 2011

Ups and downs

London – GBS Theatre (RADA) – 17-20 August 2011

There is an empty stage with a wooden table in the middle.  Some music is playing.  It gives the feel of an American bar with the exposed brick walls behind, like an open mic night.  A man comes out wearing black.  He asks if the audience know about the seven deadly sins.  People do.  He asks if they are in the bible.  They are not.  Some know this too.  He explains that there are seven detestable sins in the bible and that the performance will be about these.

Each of the Detestable Sins is explored through comedy sketches.  Each sin is introduced by a member of the cast before the action takes place.  These are not always audible but it is easy to catch on to what they may have been trying to portray.

Number one: A Lying Tongue.  The sketch is about an underage girl who goes into a shop to buy cigarettes.  The shopkeeper refuses.  The girl proceeds with elaborate excuses as to why she is indeed able to make her purchase.

Number two: An Heart That Plots Evil.  A man is on a bus.  We can hear his thoughts.  The thoughts are rude and he judges those around him.  He thinks about puppies to stop him from thinking about killing a woman on the bus.  There is an inebriated man on the bus too.  Passengers disembark.  It transpires that the man is on a blind date with the woman he had evil intentions towards.  She thinks he smells bad.  The date is unsuccessful before it starts.

Number three: Hands That Kill the Innocent.  A man plays God.  He is on the internet posting positive comments about himself on atheist websites.  A person plays the angel Gabriel.  A man has died and is in heaven talking to them.  He keeps saying “bell-ting” as his catchphrase.  There is a ‘destroy the universe’ button in heaven that he cannot touch.  The man has been killed by his gang.  He calls them ‘loveable rogues’.  He gets resurrected and is alive on earth again and sees two of the gang members.  They are scared.

Number four: A Person Who Sews (inaudible, perhaps hostility) in a Family.  A family are at a reading of a Will.  The deceased has given instructions for the family to fight over various possessions.  Two wrestle for a car.  Two duel with a pistol for an eight-bedroom house.  The person recording the conversation is killed.  The final task is for the brother to admit that he is gay in order to receive £2 million.

Number five: (Inaudible, perhaps Haughty) Eyes.  There is a table and two chairs.  A man and woman are in a restaurant.  A waiter tends to them and proceeds to insult anything and everything about them.

Number six: A False Witness Who Calls Out Lies.  There are a group of soldiers.  They make jokes about a certain extremist group.  They moan about the war and then go to a ‘Starbucks in outer Kabul’.

Number seven: Feet That Race to do Wrong.  There is a young man sitting at a table looking at his laptop computer with his dad.  The young man is looking up porn.  He jokes about making promises to God not to look at porn and how he will attend a cleansing service.  A character playing the devil comes out and speaks lies and tells him to look at porn.  There is a game show.  Believers in Christ are insulted and church service is threatened as a punishment.  This is rounded up by a ‘Looking at Porn’ song.

Yazz Fetto may have intended to teach people about the seven detestable sins in a comical way and perhaps about Christianity too in this piece.  Unfortunately, it has not been realised here.  ‘Four Monks and A Nun’ have a unique opportunity, being a Christian comedy group, to reach many and inform in a positive way.  This piece was offensive however.  There is a callous remark in the fourth sketch saying ‘I’ve never shot a gun before. If I were from Hackney, I might have had some practice.’  Gun crime is seemingly an opportune thing to make a joke about, according to this company.  There is a racist comment in the fifth sketch assuming that the woman is Polish as she has ‘despicable Polish hair’ so must be a ‘Polish cleaner’ and the man must have just come out of prison and must be on JSA (Job Seeker’s Allowance).  There is an insult about Lindsay Lohan in the sixth sketch saying that the soldiers are ‘sweating like a coked-up Lindsay Lohan’.

It is a wonder why Yazz Fetto wrote this piece with all this content.  It is infuriating that it insulted God, was racist, sexist and insulted the poor and those who have been in the criminal justice system.  The performance is all judgement and condemnation.  There is no love, understanding, offers for help or hope.

It is a shame.  The actors are all very talented and get into their characters well.  The comedy would be great if it were funny.  The actions, mannerisms and facial expressions of the actors capture their characters well.  It is hard to decipher the reason for these sketches.  Nothing is taught, nothing is explained, nothing is considered.  The actual seven detestable sins are in the bible in Proverbs 6.  They are: “a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood.  An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief. A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:17-19).

The company have a wonderful opportunity to teach people something true and good and be in a position to answer questions about life that so many have.  They could actually be a good Christian comedy sketch group. The anticipation was for something great yet it is somewhat contemptible.  It is still not too late ‘Four Monks and A Nun’.  You can put this behind you and produce works of wonder.

Cast Credits: Roxanne Ngozi Anyaorah – girl buying cigarettes (Cigarettes sketch), Jenny (Lawyer sketch), soldier 5 (Army sketch), Tim’s mum (Porn sketch).  Hannah Barel – girl on bus (Bus sketch), restaurant customer 2 (Restaurant sketch), shop customer 2 (Cigarette sketch), Betty (Lawyer sketch), Soldier 2 (Army sketch), Tim’s fiancé (Porn sketch).  Sanchez Brown – arrogant waiter (Restaurant sketch), Al (Lawyer sketch), Tim (Porn sketch), thug 1 (Heaven sketch), soldier 4 (Army sketch).  Francis Joni – devil (Porn sketch), Mr Gregory (Lawyer sketch).  Anthony Mensah – shop customer (Cigarette sketch), angel Gabriel (Heaven sketch), James (Lawyer sketch), restaurant boss (Restaurant sketch), soldier 3 (Army sketch), grandfather (Porn sketch).  Isaac Nartey – shop keeper (Cigarette sketch), man on bus (Bus sketch), God (Heaven sketch), Nick (Lawyer sketch), soldier 1 (Army sketch), Tim’s father (Porn sketch).  Serge Rashidi-Zakuani – Darren (Heaven sketch), Corporal Smith (Army sketch), game show host (Porn sketch), drunk man (bus sketch).  Emmanuel Sackey – bus driver (Bus sketch), thug 2 (Heaven sketch), Frank (Lawyer sketch), General (Army sketch), restaurant customer 1 (Restaurant sketch).

Company Credits:  Writer, Director and Guitar solo for song finale – Yazz Fetto (Four Monks and a Nun).  Company – Four Monks and A Nun.  Producers – Anthony Mensah, Isaac Nartey and Serge Rashidi-Zakuani.  Backstage Crew – Olivia Harran and Dorcus Olatunji.  Technical Crew – Yazz Fetto and RADA Theatre.

© Chantal Pierre-Packer 2011

Reviewed Friday 19th August 2011

 

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