Monel, 17

In society there has been an overall desensitisation of the public, with the overwhelming number of news reports showing conflict and international crises. And with an overwhelming number of negative news reports, it is much easier to detach ourselves, than to empathise with the people involved, and so we forget that behind each news story are individuals, each with their own stories. What Makoha does is help break down this barrier, helping the audience to really see into the lives of ordinary people affected during the Ugandan civil war. The Dark is very much a story of two tales. One being the tale of a post-colonial Uganda, ruled by a tyrannical dictator, in the climax of a civil war. And the other is a more personal story of the Ugandan people, who are still able to find joy in times of conflict. The darker side of the story was represented in several ways, such as through the use of eerie BBC news reports, describing the atrocities, during this period. This, in a way, is reflective of news stories that we hear today, reports coming in from war-torn areas in the middle east, and Africa. When watching adaptations of stories, it is often easy to forget that these are not just works of fiction, and so with the few news readings, it helps ground the audience in reality and remind them that this conflict did actually happen. Contrasting from the uneasy, darker scenes, the main plot line of the bus gives the audience a glimpse into the lives of the residents of Uganda during this time period. Here the warmer use of colour, along with the use of humour helps create a light-hearted tone, resulting in a more comfortable atmosphere. In a way this symbolises how although these people were going through hardship, they were still able to be content with their lives.

“ What Makoha does is help break down this barrier, helping the audience to really see into the lives of ordinary people affected during the Ugandan civil war.”

Makoha also critiques those in power, by portraying the difference between a good leader and a poor one; he states that poor leaders sacrifice others instead of themselves. This is represented in the Officer who has command of child soldiers, turning the innocent into cold-blooded murderers. Furthermore, I feel that the personal break up of Joyce and her husband represents the break-up of the country, with the physical act of Joyce leaving symbolising the start of the civil war within Uganda. Joyce represents the people of Uganda, disgruntled with the way the government have been treating them, whilst her husband represents Idi Amin’s dictatorial government. The neglect received by Joyce from her husband is, therefore, symbolic of how the government neglected the needs of the people, thus causing their revolution. Makoha emphasises that there was no love under Idi Amin rule. While The Dark was extremely enjoyable to watch, the only critique I have is how the villainous characters were not widely explored. Having the opportunity to see the motivations of the Officer and the General would have added to their credibility and fear factor. Apart from that, I think that as a political piece it does it jobs well. The Dark is both entertaining and thought provoking. From the acting to the individual props used, he is able to create a dichotomous atmosphere of terror and comfort which helps to feed into the power of the play’s storytelling ability.