by guest critic Hailey Bachrach
Ignace Cornelissen’s Henry the Fifth, which was at the Unicorn Theatre in 2015, remains one of my favourite versions of that play ever. Setting King Henry’s French wars in a sandbox, Cornelissen simplified without dumbing-down the central themes of Shakespeare’s play.
by guest critic Kudzanayi Chiwawa
Kim Noble, Pol Heyvaert, Jakob Ampe and the nine, young singer/songwriters they worked with describe this piece as part gig and part play, and it’s exactly that. The show unfolds as if in a radio station’s live broadcast, with a clearly confident cast carrying you through the unusual format, allowing the audience to simply enjoy it.
Two walls of Marshall amps sit either side of gleaming trusses. A DJ booth manned by a black-clad figure sports a banner for a place called Heorot. Smoke seeps through vents in the floor and a woman in goth metal dress prowls the stage.
Sami and his mum are preparing for her to go to Mars for years and years and years. Both obsessed with space, Sami’s proud of her but worried that he might never see her again. To help him come to terms with her imminent departure, mum buys him a book about Laika, the first dog to go to space.
“It’s 1914. The British government has merged the tribes and kingdoms to create modern Nigeria. King George V has sent Charles (Christian Roe) to visit Herbert Ogunde (Tunji Falana) to ask him and his theatre troupe to perform at the unity celebrations…
“The story the theatre troupe shares with Charles follows young girl Jenrola (Rita Balogun) on her quest to find the spear of Shango…Also looking for the spear are Aguzani (Stephanie Levi-John) and Obaze (Rebecca Omogbehin). The three women engage in a battle of wit and strength to see who can get to the spear first…
“The story of Charles, Herbert and his actors is framed by a Yoruba creation myth that starts and finishes the production…As lovely as this story was, it felt disconnected from the main plotline, even though it provided the background to the spear…
“All of the actors except Roe play multiple roles, and they do so incredibly skillfully. Falana…employs great physical skill to differentiate these characters and shows the inherent misogyny of 1914 Nigeria through comedy rather than nastiness…
“The set is simple but colourful and effective. The stage is a painting of a river delta and coast, forming the natural curve of the stage. There are mats and cushions on the front of the stage for young children, which gives them more of an opportunity to engage with the interactive elements of the production…
“This production is highly polished and engages the young members of the audience as well as the older ones. It was a great experience…seeing numerous young people engage with the action unfolding before them.”
Read the entire everything theatre review here.