By Xavier Kanu
For more than three months now, the noise and media buzzes about this play – Emotan almost deafened my ears. This in particular was facilitated by the Executive producer – Mr. Joseph Edgar through his incessant broadcast messages, which he later apologized to, but we knew it’d be a great show judging from how determined his marketing was. Ithen reached out to him on Tuesday morning for ticket, and he said I should come over. Got my ticket, then proceeded to see this revered play which has had it days in Benin, Edo state before now.
The play sought to depict the times of one of Benin kingdom’s most honoured, appraised and even deified women – Emotan, who through her courage helped to installed Benin’s most innovative Kings – King Ewuare in the 14th century.
The play which saw most of the cast play dual roles, opened with a narrator who gave what looked like a blurb, but for a stage play. But it ended up a surprise treat — a seldomly hilarious scene-swap tradegy based on true events, its four seemingly cardboard-cutout characters (including Emotan, Prince Ogun, King Ewuare and Uwaifiokun) revealed as intentionally clichéd Benin kingdom natives. Aisha playing a widowed caregiver and an handmaid of the gods proved a particular, peculiar delight.
If many of the Duke of Somolu (DoS) productions flourished with bright ideas and broad comic performances, this play -Emotan brings more of both. With the body-swap cat out of the bag, returning writer and director William Benson tweak the formula — introducing more theatrics like stunts, dances and songs (never saw the Kizz Daniel’s ‘no do pass yourself’ coming though). The regalia displayed in this play caught the eyes too. You could sense how expensive it was, most especially the Oba’s.
If the narrative construction is slightly exaggerated for those that read history books— the plot gears clank getting everyone back, and the intermittent arrival of the narrator -who doubled as a deity, is glossed over — so too are the stage effects. It’s more successful as an outright tradegy, but with pinches of comedy, it could have varnished out completely, the boredom at some point. The highlight of the play for me was the battle, the creation of such event with drama elements deserves my doffed hat.
I think overall, I’d rate this stage play 7/10.
It’s a must watch for everyone. Final showing is tomorrow, 25th December 3pm and 6pm at the Agip Recital Hall, Muson Center.