Directed by d’bi.young anitaafrika
Speaking Of Sneaking is conceived, performed and produced by daniel jelani ellis and is an electric journey into the story of Ginnal, a Jamaican “yardie” (expatriate), who relocates to North America after making a deal with his auntie. In exchange for this favour Jelani agrees to send a yearly care package, contained in a large barrel, back home every year.
Through the metaphor of a spider building a web, daniel seamlessly plays a multitude of characters while he navigates life in the promised land only to find out that a new kind of poverty would inevitably prevent him from fulfilling his promise to his aunt.
As Ginnal navigates his new world, he is pulled into a multitude of jobs and side-hussles ranging from house cleaner to healer and fortune teller to a “Fans Only” style gig where he performs online sexual acts for pay.
The set (Rachel Forbes) is a fantastical web that encompasses the entire theatre, zeroing in on a spider’s den where an opulent spider costume hangs. daniel was tasked with pulling off the entire ninety minutes onstage where he effortlessly changes costumes. I couldn’t help wonder if that by keeping him in full view the entire show was akin to being an actual spider in nature, one who would be in full view, and vulnerable, while it constructs its nest. daniel literally pulls off the performance with flying colours. And yes, he really does fly in the air several times.
Lighting by André du Toit brings the space to life, creating a magical masterpiece. Speaking of Sneaking gives the audience a powerful, mystical, heart-warming and humorous journey that turns theatre on its ear. And of course, the show ended with a triumphant standing ovation!
Speaking of Sneaking
Buddies In Bad Times Theatre
September 19-October 1, 2023
Edited by Maria Crawford. Photos by Raymond Helkio.