Daffi falls and its pitfalls

Photo: Jayne Mache.

Six performers are in various positions on the stage: a man lies on the floor, surrounded by old television sets whilst armed female soldiers stand close by, and in the background a projector plays black and white news footage. This is how Daffi falls begins. Running at just over 50 minutes, this production explores the life, death and legacy of former Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi.

With big ambitions to honour Gaddafi, the performance was a bit too over the top at times, and incorporated one too many elements that threaten to overpower it. Making use of a wide array of song, dance, poetry and monologue, the story is told through the perspectives of two characters: Gaddafi – who is on the brink of death – and a journalist who has been covering Gaddafi for years.

An introductory monologue sets the performance in motion: “This is the story of a man. A powerful man. An ordinary man, just like you and me.” It stretches on a bit too long, and my mind wanders away from the action onstage until it is over. Then the music plays, varying from loud to soft depending on when someone is speaking. The performer playing Gaddafi wakes up, confused and in pain as he frantically tries to switch on the television sets to find out what’s happening. The purpose of these old TVs is a little confusing at first, but soon it’s made clear that they are meant to symbolise the media’s fascination with Gaddafi.

From there, the performance unfolds with monologues, the re-enactment of the Libyan leader’s famous speeches and some interpretive dancing. It’s a lot of activity for such a short performance, and I find it hard to know what I should focus on when there is singing, dancing, a monologue and images playing from the projector all occurring simultaneously. It’s a pity, because had the production removed one or two of these elements, the performance would’ve been a lot better and the actors would have been given more time to shine.

Nevertheless, Daffi falls is a performance well worth seeing, providing a different take on the public perceptions of a powerful and mysterious man.

Catch Daffi falls on 7 July at 8:30pm and on 8 July at 2pm and 8pm.

By Mako Muzenda