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The Last King of Scotland


The Last King of Scotland.
The Crucible, Sheffield.

Tobi Bamtefa gives a capturing performance of the unpredictable and savage dictator Idi Amin, highlighted further by the anxious and fearful Dr Nicholas Garrigan played by Daniel Portman, Bamtefa portrays the oxymoronic character of the presidential dictator of Uganda with sheer confidence and might as expected with such a strong and powerful role to fulfil. The Last King of Scotland, directed by Gbolahan Obisesan based of the original novel of Giles Forden, tells a disturbing tale of the Ugandan president dictating his way through to war and Dr Garrigan cleverly manipulated and slightly forced into the position of his personal doctor as well as rather surprisingly, someone the dictator confines in and later, leads to become a dysfunctional friendship.
Throughout, we see the two lead characters develop an odd relationship as Dr Garrigan’s fear and intimidation becomes obviously growing, portrayed particularly well through Daniel Portman’s voice, pace and gestures becoming seemingly more frantic. Until the final scene in which Dr Nicholas courageously stands up for himself and goes against Amin despite threatening his life just a few scenes before. Giving the audience such intense shock and fear for his life as we see in previous scenes the dictator showing absolutely no mercy for those who go against him, even his own wife(s). When we see the doctor show his first act of courage standing up to Amin, nothing really happens and becomes such an anti-climax to the play. In addition, it seemed to have a huge lack of build-up and seemed to be rushed. For the doctor to suddenly personally attack the dictator in one of the final scenes during war very shortly after to be pleading with him to spare his life felt unreasonable. A similar atmosphere of deflation was created after Dr Nicholas was dramatically called to Idi Amin’s side after experiencing incredible ‘stomach pain’ for it to be simply trapped wind accompanied with a rather child like fart noise. Of course funny, especially for a character like Idi Amin, but deferring the tone of the play from a seriously brutal and savage dictator to a humorous pantomime.

 

 

 

 

An element of the play which seemed to engage the audience and acted well for something to use was the news report screen hung from the top of the ceiling of the stage showing various newsreaders from around the world documenting the events taking place throughout the play, making it far easier to understand, breaking up the scenes as well as giving the play a larger contextual understanding of the varied international opinions from Uganda as their home country, the U.S.A, and the United Kingdom. It emphasises not only the corruption of Uganda, but the corruption of media and twisting of information, a side theatre isn’t often showing, but necessary in political based theatre. The inclusion of the music within the scene of the banquet, the two doctors in the bar and signing in the boxing scene created an atmosphere which emphasised the culture of Uganda.
A scene all audience members can agree on which proved effective was Idi Amin’s most brutal showing. Demonstrating two of his nearest people carelessly hung in a confined glass container on their knees by their heads whom have betrayed Amin. Shown to by Dr Garrigan as a warning, it was an unexpected moment within the play, provoked terror of course which in a play as such was desperately needed, but lacked throughout the remainder of the play. Conclusively, the play gave outstanding acting but the storyline however lacked, and missed the opportunity to educate and display an actual storyline.

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