The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives – 5 Stars

Baba

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

Arcola Theatre

Reviewed – 12th June 2018

★★★★★

“there is a sense of joy and playfulness to the whole production”

 

When Teacher tells a young Baba Segi that “two women at home are better than ten in a bush”, Baba Segi knows what he has to do. Now, Baba Segi is a wealthy man with four wives and seven children by his first three wives. But when his fourth wife, university educated Bolanle, refuses to take herbal remedies to cure her barrenness, he is forced to take her to the hospital, a visit which uncovers the secret underpinning his household. Based on Lola Shoneyin’s debut novel and adapted by Rotimi Babatunde, this is a colourful, joyful and moving story directed by Femi Elufowoju Jr, set amidst the sexual and family politics of contemporary Nigeria.

Patrice Naiambana as Baba Segi is charismatic and likeable, a dominating patriarch but one characterised by an infectious warmth that ensures his downfall is touching, rather than laughable. His four wives played by Marcy Dolapo, Layo-Christina Akinlude, Christina Oshunniyi and Jumoké Fashola are fantastic, each individually characterised, collective and unique in their performances. Diana Yekinni’s performance is also standout, deftly funny and highly effective. This is all round a strong cast, both individually and as an ensemble.

Wonderful moments of visual comedy have me nearly laughing out of my seat, and there is a sense of joy and playfulness to the whole production. Sex is discussed bluntly and brazenly with fantastic comic effect. The piece touches on some very serious issues too – abortion and rape are discussed in tandem in an intensely moving moment of the play. The hierarchy of wives within a household is also examined with disastrous consequences. The music and dancing that punctuate the evening make the piece come alive and create a fantastic energy throughout the theatre.

This is an incredibly enjoyable piece of theatre that also has vital things to say about contemporary polygamy in Nigeria, and a woman’s role within the household. It is well-crafted, well-executed by a strong cast, and not to be missed.

 

Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography by Idil Sukan

 

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

Arcola Theatre until 21st July

 

Related
Previously reviewed at this venue
Heretic Voices | ★★★★ | January 2018
Fine & Dandy | ★★★★★ | February 2018
The Daughter-in-Law | ★★★★ | May 2018

 

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