Protests, Hymns and Caskets

Shoot Festival

Belgrade Theatre

In partnership with China Plate and Warwick Arts Centre

*****

This drama from writer/producer Ianaire Aderemi, and BSL signed throughout from Deborah McLeod, is based on a real history,shortened for this performance, and reads like a fairy story.

 It is a passionately political story  from Nigeria in 1947 where 10,000 women rejected an abusive colonial, patriarchal, controlling taxation system and ultimately the government.

It all started way back in the late nineteenth century with an ill-managed amalgamation of southern and northern provinces of Nigeria and never settled. Men, the ‘big men’ became the beneficiaries of control on the ground, including the church, but the women bore the brunt of the injustice with levels of punitive taxation.

Yejide (Lola May) as the daughter of the previous generation’s ringleader, Madam Jojolala (Dorcas A Stevens) took charge, with Ifelayo (Dorcas A Stevens) and Elelubo (Dami Olukoya) both married to ‘big men’ and initially reluctant to rock the boat. Elewedu (Antonia Layiwola) is married to policeman (David King-Yombo) brutally policing the taxation for which, though his job means money into the house, it is too high a price for her to pay.

The scene in the drawing room with tea and Rich Tea biscuits with the three main characters was my favourite and seemed to be the turning point of the play. It all sounds rather dull but far from it. Directed by Jen Davis there was singing, dancing and merriment alongside a brutal tale which ends with success for the woman of Abeokuta. I would love to see the original, longer version because this was supreme.

Jane Howard

29-04-22 

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