Posts Tagged ‘Femi Elufowoju Jr.’

This is an adaptation, by playwright Rotimi Babatunde, of Lola Shoneyin’s 2010 novel about a rich, larger-than-life Nigerian polygamist, Baba Segi. At first you seem to be celebrating this misogynist bullying monster as a lovable rogue, but it takes a delicious twist. It’s a rude, boisterous and hugely funny piece and the superb music is the icing on the cake.

We see Baba begin his collection of wives, adding two, who all give him children, before he meets the fourth, graduate Bolanie, who is unpopular with the other wives and appears to be barren. In the first half, we see Baba ruling like a despot, taking turns to have sex with the wives, celebrating his fertility in producing children. In the second half, it takes an unexpected, brilliant turn as Baba is brought down to earth, after which the wives can chose freedom or continued enslavement. Their decisions constitute another extraordinary turn of events.

It’s a exuberant production by Femi Elufowoju Jr. with thrilling African choral singing, accompanied by percussion and dancing. The cast are all superb, performing with the audience on all sides, with superb audience engagement (with some commenting on the action!). Somehow the cocktail of sexism, misogyny and bullying becomes a riotous and uplifting evening, and it was great to be in a white minority in the theatre for once.

With The Barbershop Chronicles, Nine Night (transferring to the West End), the revival of Leave Taking and this all within the last year, we may be entering a golden age for black theatre. Unmissable.

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