Dialektikon at Park Theatre
Dialektikon is a German term referring to a rhetorical device whereby someone asks a question to which he or she immediately gives a response, allowing the speaker to anticipate and undermine any opposition. In the context of Jacky Ivimy’s play, does this refer to an uncanny self-awareness of her self-indulgent writing, in which she claims to have the answers to all our worldly woes? Then one might wonder at the point of her drama. Or did she take it to mean a form of self-meditation, which would make more sense as a title – but which would demonstrate the weaknesses of her script?
Dialektikon’s premise indicates the latter: the story follows Miranda – played by a perfectly talented Mary Nyambura, who wastes her potential here – as she goes on a dream-journey in which she encounters one political lecturer after another. Sound good? Well, it would be if the political positions were surprising, contrasting or complementing of one another. Instead, everything is perfectly predictable, one-sided and entirely overbearing. One gets the sense that the playwright is doing little more than patting herself on the back for being so ethically pristine. It doesn’t help that The Servant – played by a strong Benjamin Victor – who represents everything that’s bad in this world, is so ridiculous and obvious that he’d put Emmanuel Goldstein to shame.
If this is avant-garde theatre, we’re living in dark times. Where it once was clever and intellectual, here we get simultaneously naive and resentful laziness. Where it once was imaginative and interesting, here we get boring conformity to an obvious political taste. The only things worth watching in this production are the generally convincing actors and the superb lighting and musical effects – kudos to director Adébayo Bolaji for that.
So who is Dialektikon for, exactly? Regular theatre-goers will be bored by the simplicity of the political message and the lack of a decent plot – or character development. People of a different political standing will be appalled by the sheer one-sidedness of the message and not believe in it anyway, regardless of what value it holds. In the end, the production is merely preaching to the choir as it moves beyond polemical theatre and into the realm of shameless propaganda.
Photos: Amoroso Films
Dialektikon is at Park Theatre from 6th December until 29th December 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch the trailer for the show here: