Olurombi Theater Company did a great job in preserving Nigerian culture in their production of The Estate. It was a two-day performance with a full house on day two.
The script written by Oladipo Agbouaje is a story of a family of a deceased wealthy businessman who are all fighting for their share of the inheritance. The show kept audience on their toes with instances of sex, scandal, and strong family dysfunction. In lesser hands the show could be seen as offensive, but Director Wunmi Falade and a great cast had the audience laughing throughout the whole production.
The costumes throughout the production were very impressive and accurate. The servants were dressed in simple robes while the lady of the manor and the children had an impressive variety of traditional Nigerian dresses for every occasion sometimes complete with elaborate hats.
The entire production was set at the estate of the deceased Chief Adeyemi. The stage was very plain with just a couch, a chair, a coffee table and a door with the whole stage surrounded by black curtains. The lighting was also simple, just one overhead light for the whole show. At one point, the lights were dimmed for a whole scene to simulate a generator blow out in the play. This caused heard amusement from the audience, as generators going out is a known problem to occur in Nigeria.
Luckily, the modest set did not hamper the audience from fully getting into the show. The actors played their roles so well as to enthrall the audience and had them reacting with enthusiasm throughout the whole production. There was laughter, shocked exclamations, clapping and whistling drawn from the audience by the excellent acting of the cast.
Helen (Anne Olamide) was the widow of and second wife of Chief Adeyemi, the current owner of the estate. Olamide plays her role well as the proud lady of the manor, who enjoys a life of luxury and striking fear into her servants. She is constantly threatening to hit her house girl Abasina (Wunmi Falade) and further abuses her power to call her house girl to fetch things for her when they are within reach. She is so attached to her power that at the end of the production when she loses the estate to Pastor Pakimi (Recio Fanciulo), she takes him upstairs to sleep with him to remain in control of the estate. Olamide was very convincing in her role, with a harsh voice for the servants, motherly fussing over her daughter and step-sons, and adding to her character of a seductress with a signature walk to show off her body.
The Chief’s sons Yinka (Ezekiel Ashamu) and Soji (Nimi Ajayi) return to the estate for the funeral and to make their claim on the inheritance. Sparks immediately begin to fly as Yinka and Helen argue over who has more right to the estate. The audience learns that Helen was the house girl of the Chief and is said by Yinka to have seduced his father and gotten pregnant in order to become the lady of the house. Ashmu plays the role of the angry step-son extremely well, who not only openly shows his distaste for his step-mother but also his half-sister Sola (Meagan Whisnant). Soji has a very different view on his half sister as the two of them become romantically involved during the production. Ajayi plays his role of the peacemaker at the estate to a T with a soft voice and calming demeanor, the only family member who does not get into a squabble throughout the whole production. Whisnant does her character justice as a seducer of men, seeking to use any man that will get her out of Nigeria and on to a life of wealth. Like her mother, she is willing to use her body to gain an easy life. The audience is thrilled by this scandalous romance, and they continue to hoot and holler whenever the two are left alone on stage together.
The male servants Afolabi (Sam Bankole) and Ekong (Dayo Olateju) add comic relief to the show by constantly making fun of each other as one very old and one young often do. They have a good chemistry together and the joking came easily to them.
Overall, the production was a great hit with the audience who gave a standing ovation at the end.
This page contains a single entry by Mark Harvey published on January 22, 2012 10:42 PM.
It's a Wonderful Life - Theater Arlington was the previous entry in this blog.
The Miracle Worker - UMD Theatre is the next entry in this blog.
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