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Theater Tue Oct 05 2010
Some art makes you think. Some art is beautiful or terrible or transcendent and lofty. Every once in a while, art really makes a difference in the world. The Nairobi Project does none of these things, but I'll bet it'll make you laugh your ass off.
The premise of this play is that it was written by a twenty-two year old Kenyan named Victor Gido, who, after what we can assume were several attempts to sell other plays to American producers via spam emails, was finally discovered by Steve Gadlin. After a series of slightly nonsensical emails between the two, Gadlin paid Gido $50 to write a play about "a millionaire named Quack Quack Quimby who has forgotten the true meaning of the Jewish holiday Tu Bishvat. His daughter goes to great lengths to remind him of its meaning, and make him happy once again. We'd like the play to end with him on his deathbed, reciting a monologue about his regained love for Tu Bishvat, and also admitting a lifelong homosexual affair with his trusted assistant, The Wizard Dumbeldore."
The resulting play is a verbatim translation of Gido's script, performed magnificently by six professional actors. Every translative anomaly is performed with hilarious accuracy-- stage directions are spoken when no appropriate punctuation separates them from adjacent dialogue in the script, and there is no shortage of long pauses accompanied by vacant stares and smiles.
Let's not beat around the bush-- this is exploitation, pure and simple. We are making fun of Gido's tenuous grasp on the English language and his questionable ability to construct a cohesive story. But you know what? It's so *^#%*ing funny, I don't care, and neither should you. He got his fifty bucks, and he got his play produced in Chicago-- America's most flourishing independent theater hub. Credit has been given where credit is due, and it's my job to give credit to the people who brought this hilarious, albeit absolutely absurd, play to Chicago.