Review: Chanzo

Chanzo brings cultural conflict into clarity

By Aubrianna Snow: BTR Writer and Owner of the Strongest Arm on High-Five Mountain

Mukonzi Wa Musyoki’s intensely emotional script is brought to life with electric creative chemistry.

Chanzo is a cohesive, compelling production exploring the dynamics between a young Kenyan-Canadian man named Chanzo, his Canadian girlfriend Charlotte, and his sister in Kenya, after the death of his father. This is an introspective and engaging story that drops the viewer right in the middle of Chanzo’s family drama and manages to tell a complete story without the need for extensive history or lore.

Like many great Fringe shows, the minds behind Chanzo use their limited set and props to their advantage. The simple furniture and mood lighting allows the audience to fill the gaps with their imagination as they follow the action on stage. One is left feeling that any more complex of a setting would distract from the production’s deep emotional impact.

All three cast members bring a tremendous amount of honesty to their roles, and the chemistry between them all is truly electrifying. The cultural differences and miscommunications become clear without making anyone’s character look like the “bad guy”, which contributes to the authentic and intuitive nature of the plot. This could really be a situation playing out in a similar way in any home across the globe.

David Shingai Madawo is nearly perfect in his passionate portrayal of the play’s titular character, and Chanzo’s brooding and conflicted emotions ask the viewer to consider the story from their perspective. He’s caught between two opposing worlds, represented by two strong, important women in his life, and this is the key theme of the play more than anything to do with his father’s death. It begs the question of where Chanzo’s priorities ought to lie – with his family and his home, or with his partner and his future. It’s an interesting glimpse into some of the deep conflicts of allegiance that can arise for young Canadians walking in two worlds, culturally or otherwise.

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