By Chigozie Obioma, adapted for the stage by Gbolahan Obisesan
HOME & New Perspectives Theatre
HOME, 24 July 2018
Two actors can contain multitudes.
Here Michael Ajao (as Ben, principally) and Valentine Olukoga (as his brother Obembe) took to the stage in Gbolahan Obisesan’s thrilling adaptation of Chigozie Obioma’s fine novel. They played the brothers at various stages of their lives, and diverse other characters also (their parents and older brothers, a policeman, the odd cantankerous elder…) and, as the play went on and you became irresistibly drawn into a compelling tale of misadventure and crime, the stage seemed to alter also, expanding outwards to encompass Nigeria, that vast nation of millions of souls, and the world beyond it (one brother sees migration to Canada as his future). It too possessed multitudes.
The action was often frantic and violent, yet there were intimate, earnest conversations too. There was atmospheric horror and terror as well as a clear-eyed view of the complexities and contradictions of modern-day Africa. This is the crux: the brothers break a taboo, but they do so in a world where taboos, the social compact that once held all together, are broken anyway. You can attribute this to various forces, among the usual candidates being colonialism, globalisation, corruption, poverty… But no matter, the brothers’ predicament remains the same: what are the rules in a world with no rules? And that is our predicament too.
The Fishermen delivers everything you could possibly want from modern theatre; it is a perfect gem. The play is at HOME until 28 July. Details here.