Sunday, October 11, 2015

Theatre Review: Shattered

Duration: 1 hour

Produced by PAW Studio and directed by Kenneth Uphopho (director of Saro the Musical I and II, London Life Lagos Living), Shattered is an intense theatre experience; entertaining, yet incredibly moving.

Loveth is the teenage daughter of Folake, a struggling widow who seeks escape from her troubles in religion. The play opens with a weary Folake returning from work to an empty house – Loveth, who should have been home from school long before her mother, is nowhere to be found. Dishes are piled up in the kitchen sink and an angry Folake seethes with anger as she awaits her daughter’s return. When Loveth returns, the ensuing confrontation causes the teenager to attempt swallowing a handful of her mother’s pills. But Folake gets to her just in time. What follows is a parade of characters and their attempts at intervention: Nneka, Folake’s more affluent friend and, to some extent, voice of reason; Pastor, the Bible and crucifix-wielding, white garmented preacher who has Folake convinced that all her troubles can be traced to her late husband’s family; Mr. Dave, Nneka’s husband and Folake’s benefactor; and Nancy, Loveth’s friend and classmate.

The story that this play tells is not a new one. But what Shattered does well is dramatize the difficulty that the victim of sexual abuse faces in speaking about the experience. In this play, Loveth is surrounded by a community of people she cannot tell about what has happened to her; and for many victims of sexual abuse, this is their reality. Folake, though her intentions are good and her love genuine, is a woman hardened by life and blinded by religious fervour. She cannot reach her own child. The more level-headed Nneka is able to get Loveth to speak, but only so much. Pastor, himself a potential abuser (or so it would seem) cannot answer Loveth’s questions about life and God. It is to her friend, Nancy, that Loveth eventually tells her troubles.

It feels needless to talk about the set, but I have to say I liked it. I think the designer(s) worked very well with the space they had, making use of both stage and floor space to give us a bedroom, living room and a kitchenette. The audience seats were arranged in rows, in a semicircle; the overall feel was one of quiet intimacy.

At the end of the performance there was an interactive session with the cast where the audience was invited to ask question and comment on the play and on the subject of sexual violence/abuse. I think this is a brilliant move on the part of the cast and crew; a way to engage with the audience, to further the conversation, to consider the question ‘what next?’ While there are no simple answers, it’s important that we are able to ask these questions. Shattered is a play well worth seeing.

Loveth – Goodness Emmanuel
Folake – Bola Haastrup
Nneka – Ijeoma Aniebo
Pastor – Kelvinmary Ndukwe/Patrick Diabuah
Mr. Dave – Martins Iwuagu
Nancy – Bunmi Sogade

Shattered will be showing at TerraKulture on all Sundays in October, at 3pm and 6pm. Tickets cost N3,500 (regular) and N5,000 (VIP). You can get tickets here, on DealDey or at the door.

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