I finally got to watch the production that has been popping up on every group I belong to on whatsapp… Our Husband has Gone Mad Again yesterday at the Arts Lecture Theatre. I entered with my bottle of Coke, tired and hungry with the sick sweetness of warm Coke in my mouth after standing outside for more than an hour as I and other people waited for the doors to be opened.
CHARACTERS AND ACTION
5:25pm, the play began with the NLP – National Liberation Party holding a meeting and handing out pamphlets to members of the audience. I was impressed, the audience were involved in the play, I was still smiling until I saw Lejoka-Brown and his wife. I was disappointed but maybe that was because the Lejoka-Brown I imagined while I was reading the play wasn’t what I saw on stage, for someone who used to be in the military, the actor who played the role of Lejoka-Brown lacked both the physique and charisma to act the role. He could have been forgiven if he was less of a jester and comedian and more of the authoritative semiliterate ex military personnel Lejoka-Brown is.
The stifling comedy and use of redundant expressions like “Aye mi temi bami” made the actions distasteful and the comic acts forced. It makes one cringe in embarrassment. Lejoka-Brown’s character holding and pushing his tummy up and down was an unnecessary distraction, the tummy is prominent, we have seen it, holding it up and down only drew our attention to it more and we couldn’t help but notice the artificial tummy as it folds, bends and moves to the side.
Sikira, another character who is the spoilt junior wife he married for his political ambition is also guilty of the exaggerated acts. It was funny in the beginning when she was licking her hands and rubbing it on Lizzy but it became overbearing at a point.
Mama Rashida who was the star of the play and it saving grace tried to make things funnier by tying and untying her wrapper exposing her thighs and making us wonder whether the brown thing we are seeing under is her flesh or her underwear? Then the fanning of her privates with her wrapper? What was it significance? Was she engaged in a bedroom marathon with the Major? Or she has vagina infections due to their unhygienic way of life? Is her pubic hair overgrown? Why wasn’t there an excuse for her actions by her or the other characters? We were supposed to know. Or is that supposed to be her mannerism? A woman fanning her vagina repeatedly? In another desperate bid to be funny, Mama Rashida often mixes up her tenses and I couldn’t help but notice she was speaking like the comic character Jenifa. It was annoying, her thick yoruba accented English to me is enough. Even Sikira tried the whole mixing of tenses thing and she had to stop at some points and pick it up again. What happened to consistency?
Polycarp’s character has a nod, I still don’t understand the main reason Lejoka-Brown’s friend came on stage.
Lizzy was the most under used character, this is sad because she has more significant due to her strong influence on Sikira and Mama Rashida which led to the climax of the play! She was just prancing around and giving us a mix of American/Australian/Tush-Nigerian accent.
Why was Polycarp dressed like a 1960s village headmaster or court messenger? Why was Major’s friend dressed in an outfit that seemed to crawl out of the late 50s? If the setting is supposed to be in the 1960s or 50s, why was Lizzy dressed like a modern day slay queen in the scene she first appeared in? Why would Lejoka-Brown be dressed in that ugly outfit to NLP meeting?
I have heard some productions get forgiven when they failed to deliver very well on stage if their mistakes get covered up by the orchestra. In this production’s case, the orchestra were out to ruin it. The songs were often scattered, at times some of the orchestras would raise a song and the rest would join in the middle, in a bid to be louder the drums, they ended up shouting and losing their various keys. Other times they would start a song but get distracted along the line and their voices would fade out in a haphazard cluster of syllables.
The house didn’t get arranged when it got scattered, the political party headquarters didn’t get arranged when the fight occurred among the politicians. Why is that so?
I couldn’t help but notice towards the end of the play that Sikira became “civilized” she began to wear clothes in vogue and dumped the long hijab and maxi gown she often wears, but why was she dressed in an old Buba and Iro that looked like it was in disagreement with the ground? Why was her wrapper tied carelessly? A woman who is supposed to have learnt how to be glam from Lisa? Why was her skimpy gown showing under her buba like an overzealous saturday sneaking up on sunday? Then Sikira’s mother is Igbo? HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? Why wasn’t there a reference or something that’d lessen the shock we felt when she began to speak English with heavy Igbo accent? Why was she smartly dressed compared to her careless looking daughter? If Sikira became relaxed with looking good at Lejoka-Brown’s house because she is the junior wife, why can’t her mother’s tidiness rub off on her even after Lizzy’s training? Where did she pick her thick Yoruba accent and confused grammar?
The whole performance left a nasty taste in my mouth. I am angry I stood for more than an hour in anticipation for it. I am angry I got less than what I paid for. I am angry I convinced myself to sit throughout 1hr 15 minutes of utter nonsense!
I am angry a play written by Ola Rotimi has been disrespected, an evergreen text with lots of productions and awards to it name which should either be made to go above it previous standards or left alone is reduced to a meaningless performance. You don’t present a play like that with below par actions, costumes, orchestra, directing, actors and actions! If this was a performance to be scored by me, it sure is getting a D from me.